Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 ‘The Spoils of War’ notes and Episode 5 ‘Eastwatch’ trailer thoughts

Welcome back everyone to another week of me discussing the Game of Thrones episode from last week and looking ahead to what we might be able to expect from tonight’s episode. We’re currently past the half way mark now and are rapidly moving towards the season finale. This would usually mean a gear change in terms of action and drama but this season has been moving so quickly already. I can’t believe the end of the series as a whole is only nine episodes away… let’s not think about it, ok? For now, we can just focus on The Spoils of War.

Daenarys Targaryen rides her dragon Drogon into battle against Jaime Lannister and the Lannister soldiers in Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4, The Spoils of War.

Drogon used flamethrower. It was super effective.

  • Damn, that battle man…
  • That Battle
  • Daenarys finally taking to the field with Drogon was the heart-stopping affair that it needed to be. From one moment to the next, I was holding my breath and sitting on the edge of my seat worried that Jaime was going to get burnt, or Bronn would get eaten, or Drogon would take a spear to the face or Daenarys would get thrown off. There was so much tension and suspense in one battle and it was wonderful.
  • Maybe one can remove armour underwater but can it be done one-handed? On the other hand, I doubt that Jaime is just going to sink to the bottom and disappear. Unless they fish him out and the audience see a body everyone will be expecting him to show up at pivotal moments for the rest of the series.
  • The battle also marked a nice compromise between not burning the innocent and still utilising the dragons and the Dothraki in combat. The only people who got burnt were enemy soldiers (and their supply chains).
  • I also enoyed the sparring match between Brienne and Arya. Some people are decrying the fact that Arya was able to match a seasoned fighter blow for blow but I’m also not sure that Brienne was actually going all out anyway. And she did manage to knock Arya down so it’s not like Arya was completely untouchable.
  • Bran’s ‘Chaos is a ladder’ comment to Littlefinger was perfect. Littlefinger is always trying to find an in where he can make himself indispensable. Bran immediately shut that down. And his giving the dagger to Arya also seems important. Most likely Bran has seen the body she stabs with it. I doubt that she’ll be on the front line against the army of the dead.
  • The cave scene and some of Davos comments confirm that they’re moving towards a Daenarys/Jon romance. Neither of them have time for that just yet but I expect there to be a lot of these little moments of drawing the two closer and closer over the next season and a half.

Looking ahead to episode five tonight, one of the bigger points to mention is what the trailer doesn’t show than what it does. There are no shots of Bronn or Jaime. While Bronn likely swam out of the lake and just didn’t make it into the trailer, the absence of Jaime suggests he won’t be fished out in this episode. Maybe they didn’t want to give away that he survived, but if he did I feel that the trailer would have wanted to show Daenarys in the process of deciding his fate. Instead we simply see images of the dragon Queen addressing the surviving soldiers and images of Tyrion looking disturbed by her ‘bend the knee or die’ stance.

Following on from that, Varys is challenging Tyrion to make Daenarys listen to reason. There’s a tactic in film and television to insert lines into trailers implying a conflict when the line in the final release is actually said about something else. I think this is one of those cases. I believe Benioff and Weiss are trying to paint Tyrion and Varys as being wary of Daenarys following her use of Drogon in battle but that line could just as easily be in relation to Daenarys’ refusal to help with the attack at Eastwatch or a possible planned assault on King’s Landing.

The reason I mention King’s Landing is because the trailer does show us Cersei and Qyburn, with the former declaring that they will stand against any attack. It seems that she may have heard about the Lannister defeat but not about Jaime. This only further strengthens the theory that he is still in the water because I have no doubt that any after action reports would have mentioned that Jaime was eaten by a dragon. And I’d have to believe that if Cersei thought that she’d lose Jaime that she’d be a bit more emotional here. Losing her children is one thing but Jaime and Cersei have been inseparable since they were children. Jaime went so far as to join the kingsguard just to be close to Cersei. Their bond is so deep that I imagine Cersei would be inconsolable were Jaime to be killed. Instead she is shown as cold and stoic as she has been in these past few episodes, and her words suggest that they’re preparing to defend the capital.

The White Walkers and their army of the dead descend on the realms of men in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5, Eastwatch.

Cause this is thriller, thriller night.

The main issue, however, is undoubtedly the pending attack on Eastwatch by the sea, the east most castle of the Wall. This is where Jon sent Tormund Giantsbane and where the Hound and the Brotherhood without Banners were last seen on route to. So at least it’s likely to be defended. But the trailer reveals that Jon is petitioning Dany’s support to defend the castle. And it’s nice to see Jon being open minded about Bran’s visions, given everything he himself has seen beyond the wall. I could see Dany again pressing the need for Jon to bend the knee, causing Tyrion and Varys to feel that they must convince her to help regardless. There’s also a theory floating about that Jon already bent the knee in that cave, in which case perhaps Daenarys is willing to help and Tyrion and Varys are worried about taking their eye off Cersei? Either way, I fully expect to see another dragon in action soon, this time burning wights and taking names. Whether the White Walkers will be as defenceless as the Lannister army remains to be seen though.

Major battles in Game of Thrones have been traditionally saved for the penultimate episode of the season. This can be seen in season 6 with the Battle of the Bastards or in season 2’s battle at the Blackwater. But this season we’ve already gotten a major battle in the 4th episode and another one looks to be coming in the 5th episode. Either tonight’s battle will continue next week or they’re building to something even more substantial in episode 6. Personally, I think it’ll be the former. The battle at Eastwatch will begin with those already there battling to keep the White Walkers back and end with Dany and her dragon, possibly with the Lannister soldiers that she recruits, arriving. Next week will see a long, drawn out battle accumulating in the fall of the wall and possibly the death of a dragon, leaving episode 7 to show our protagonists regrouping and possibly Cersei taking the opportunity to strike back in some way. On the other hand, that sequence might be kind of obvious but from my perspective that’s where the season looks to be heading.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments below or through social media. To keep up with this series you can hit the follow button on the left and be sure to check out my other reviews and opinion pieces on this site. If that isn’t really your thing or you just love to read, you can also check out my novel, Carrion Youth, over at Swoonreads.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 ‘The Queen’s Justice’ notes and Episode 4 ‘The Spoils of War’ trailer and leak thoughts

Welcome to another week of Game of Thrones in review, where this week I’ll be looking at interesting points from ‘The Queen’s Justice’ and what we can expect next week judging from ‘The Spoils of War’ trailer. So let’s get into it.

Jon Snow meets Daenarys Targaryen at Dragonstone in Game of Thrones season 7 episode 3 The Queen's Justice.

This is Jon Snow. He knows nothing.

  • I like to imagine that the dragons were just trying to get a closer look at the secret other Targeryen.
  • The much awaited meet between Daenarys and Jon wasn’t quite as intense as the Daenarys/Varys exchange from last week but it was still an engaging scene full of great rebuttals on both sides. In particular, Ser Davos shone in this scene.
  • It was a nice touch, and very in character, for Jon not to want to go into the whole ‘brought back to life’ discussion. However, it does feel like a very intentional delaying tactic in the writing so that it can be a more powerful reveal later.
  • Of all people though, Daenarys should have more of an open mind. Before she came along, dragons were thought to be dead. So why should the White Walkers and the Night’s King still be myths? I imagine it’s part of her ego but does she really believe that the one who was promised exists to simply dethrone Cersei?
  • Cersei has been very efficient so far, but Cersei’s main flaw has always been that she’s thought herself smarter than she is. She sees herself as Tywin come again, and there were comments made to that effect in this episode but, as was also alluded to by Olenna, she has a cruel streak. Both seem likely to come back and bite her on the ass soon.
  • The use of Robb Stark’s tactics to take the Reach while the Unsullied are isolated at Casterly Rock was nicely done. But I do wonder about Jaime’s comments about Casterly Rock’s importance. It may not be of strategic importance but it will be of moral significance. Robb himself once stated that a ruler who could not hold their home was no ruler at all.
  • Bran’s arrival and statement that he needs to talk to Jon implies that we will be getting the R+L=J reveal as soon as Jon gets back to Winterfell…which doesn’t look to be any time soon.
  • In the books there’s a slow drifting apart of Jaime and Cersei as Jaime starts to feel that his total devotion is one sided. That hasn’t happened in the show but Olenna’s admission could be the start of the rift between the siblings. I can totally see Cersei refusing to believe that anyone other than Tyrion killed Joffrey.

In the trailer for ‘The Spoils of War’ we see Cersei discussing her intention to bring Westeros under her control with the Iron Bank. So far Cersei’s dealings with the Iron Bank have been amicable but there’s always an ominous about the Bank. I imagine Cersei sees the Iron Bank as just another pawn but the Iron Bank aren’t like the lords of Westeros. They aren’t in this war for ideals or self-preservation. They’ll back Cersei for as long as it’s profitable and then…

That dagger from season one that almost killed Bran and led Catelyn to kidnap Tyrion also makes an appearance. The weapon hasn’t really been seen since or played much of a part in the story. The only people it’s of any relevance to are Starks and Lannisters so it’s probably making its appearance in either Winterfell or King’s Landing. This season has enjoyed its call backs to previous events so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the dagger’s only part to play in this episode but the darkness of the scene suggests it’ll show up at Winterfell.

Speaking of Winterfell, there’s a brief shot of Arya on horseback upon a hill looking on the castle. Last week saw Bran return to Winterfell and tonight looks to bring another sibling home. Given that Brans return was a little more creepy than sweet given how much he’s changed, I wonder if Arya’s return will be more emotional or just as awkward.

Daenarys Targaryen rides her dragon Drogon in Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4 The Spoils of War.

This is also how the NeverEnding Story ended

Another important shot is Theon’s return. Much of the trailer sees Daenarys lamenting her loss of allies and defeats so far, and Theon’s personal account of the battle is unlikely to make her much happier. There are some shots of Daenarys in a cave with Jon leading the way, which are either to do with dragonglass or maybe caves are just where he takes all of his lovers. With the war not going her way, Daenarys may come to rely more fully on Jon. Though we also see her riding Drogon so perhaps she may not have to rely on Jon too much just yet.

Tonight’s episode however is also unique in that it was already leaked a few days ago. Game of Thrones has always been fairly susceptible to spoilers but this year has seemed particularly vulnerable. A few years ago the first three episodes got leaked but this year scripts for many of the episodes got leaked and now a full episode. Hopefully though if you haven’t wanted to be spoiled that you’ve managed to avoid them, though in this day and age that’s next to impossible unless you swear off the internet between episodes.

That wraps up another week. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and if you’d like to read more, check out the archives or follow me on social media. To keep up to date hit the follow button to the left. Or to read my novel, check out Swoonreads.

Game of Thrones Stormborn notes and The Queen’s Justice thoughts.

Hi guys. As everyone anticipates the third episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season tonight, I’m here to look at last week’s episode and the trailer and try to predict in some small way where the story is going. Last week I successfully called that there would be a naval battle in Stormborn. Will I be as successful this week? Probably not.

Arya Stark comes face to face with Nymeria her pet direwolf from her youth in the Game of Thrones season 7 episode 3 Stormborn.

Please don’t remember the time I threw rocks at you…

• Starting with the end, because it’s the biggest event on everyone’s mind, I didn’t interpret Theon’s fleeing as the return of Reek. Theon made a calculated decision for Yara’s survival. If he rushed Euron both he and Yara would likely have been killed. At least this way, Yara is alive and Theon can get word to Daenarys quickly.
• On the point of keeping Yara alive though, it seems unnecessary. Euron already controls the Iron Isles so in fact killing Yara would solidify his rule. And kinslaying doesn’t seem like a moral distinction that would bother Euron. The only reason I can think to keep Yara and Ellaria Sand alive is that part of Euron’s gift is to let Cersei decide what to do with them.
• Arya meeting with Nymeria has been anticipated for a few seasons and it was a nice scene. What I took from the scene was the confirmation that Arya hasn’t lost that inherent Stark relationship with the North. For so long Arya’s story has been a battle of identity that there was a question of just how much of herself she gave up to become the assassin she wanted to be.
• Jon continues to make the best decisions for Westeros despite arguments from almost everyone around him. There is a definite risk here that the meeting could be a trap or that Daenarys could react violently, but Jon understands that they can afford to be cautious and isolationist as they prepare for the coming of the Night’s King. I can’t wait for the interaction between Jon and Dany and Davos reaction when he sees Melisande again.
• I was a little surprised at how viciously Daenarys went after Varys in that opening scene. It cleared the air and set up the scene with Melisande but damn I actually feared for Vary’s life at least two or three times during that scene. Given Olenna’s advice and Euron’s first strike, Dany’s reaction may be a full-on dragon assault on King’s Landing.
• Qyburn’s giant bow and arrow was a hilarious reveal. In execution, I can’t imagine that they’ll be easy to aim and living dragons aren’t going to sit still like the bones do. No doubt they’ll deal some damage, but historically armaments weren’t terribly effective in fending off dragon invasions.

From The Queen’s Justice trailer it looks like Daenarys has a major decision to make. There are multiple shots of her looking out towards King’s Landing and her statement that she was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms seems like a clear statement of intent against those who feel like last week’s naval battle was a severe blow to her invasion.

We also see scenes of Jon arriving at Dragonstone and in the throne room with Daenarys. It’s all just hype though. The trailer gives away nothing for what we might expect from the meeting but following on from Cersei’s first strike, I don’t imagine Daenarys will be in the best of moods. I don’t think anyone believes that Jon will actually be burnt alive at this stage of the season but I do anticipate another intense scene such as the Daenarys/Varys scene from last week.

Jaime Lannister walks through an arch in an unknown location in the trailer for Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4 The Queen's Justice.

Jaime borrows Vary’s teleportation machine and heads to Casterly Rock.

Most of the other scenes are of the Unsullied’s assault on Casterly Rock. I think the Unsullied will be victorious here, balancing the wins in the war so far. One interesting question is where Jaime is. There’s a shot of him walking underneath an arch and I believe Vary’s line ‘They know we’re coming’ may be about Casterly Rock. Jaime’s shot looks like there could be a battle going on in the background, possibly placing him at his family home during the Unsullied attack. For an interesting parallel to the War of the Five Kings, I can envision Jaime being captured again.

The only other scene worth talking about is a shot of Sansa in the Godswood, looking somewhat worried or shocked. It could just be some event in Winterfell that demands her attention, or some shocking news from Littlefinger, but I expect the true reason may be Arya’s return. Or a letter about Bran at the wall. Goodness knows we haven’t heard from him since the first episode.

There we have it, what has been and what will be in terms of Game of Thrones this week. Thanks for reading and join me again next week for Episode 3 notes and trailer analysis. To keep up to date with these reviews you can click the follow button to the left or follow me on social media. As ever if you want to read less reviewy and more narrative, you can read my second fiction novel, Carrion Youth, over at Swoonreads.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 notes, Comic-Con trailer thoughts and looking ahead to Episode 2

So, I took some time off to focus on writing and publishing but I couldn’t help returning to comment on the new season of Game of Thrones. First, some points on the Season 7 premiere, Dragonstone.

John Bradley-West as the lovable Samwell Tarley at the Citadel in the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, Dragonstone.

How all Ice and Fire readers react to new Thrones seasons.

  • The opening Frey massacre was brilliant. The reveal of Arya under the Walder Frey mask lost a bit of punch given we seen his throat slit in the Season 6 finale, but it was still a great scene.
  • A lot has already been said about the Ed Sheeran cameo to the point where Ed quit Twitter (he has since returned). I must agree that it detracted from the scene. He should have been more of a background character but instead he seemed to be constantly in the shots with Arya.
  • Sansa is just wrong. Her plan to take lands from traitorous families and give it to loyal ones is the same Lannister tactic that allowed the Bolton’s to take ownership of Winterfell and the North. And look how that worked out for them.
  • I’m surprised Jaime isn’t mad. He ruined his reputation once in order to prevent the burning of King’s Landing only for his sister to do the very thing he tried to prevent years later.
  • Although Daenary’s ‘shall we begin?’ line was a sweet closer, I found it rather absurd that the Dragonstone was completely empty and uninhabited. In the books Stannis leaves a garrison but it’s later taken by the Lannisters in a bloody and costly siege. In the show it seems that no one saw the benefit of a castle which is the first line of defence against an attack from the east.

The Comic-Con trailer doesn’t give us much more than what we already know but we do get some cool shots of Lannister soldiers on the battlefield and indications of where the main stories are going. Jon will look to join with the Targaryens, which is interesting given that Robb was previously reluctant to side with the Baratheons (not that either Stannis or Renly were willing). The notable difference is that Robb was entirely focused on the Seven Kingdoms, whereas Jon is more concerned with the Night King beyond the wall. A conflict of interest that looks to plague him in his dealings with Sansa and the Northerners for the rest of the season.

There’s also a scene in the trailer of Euron riding through King’s Landing to what seems like applause, possibly having provided the gift that he promised Cersei. But with the North, the Reach, Dorne and Daenarys all moving against her, the support of the Iron Isles doesn’t really make up the difference. Even if Littlefinger was to betray Sansa and take the Vale to Cersei, the Lannisters will still be wholly outgunned…unless Euron has a certain dragon horn from the books…

Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy rides through King's Landing to applause in the Game of Thrones Comic-Con trailer.

The last person to ride through King’s Landing to this much fanfare was Margaery Tyrell.

Tonight though, I expect to be much like episode 1: moving all of the characters into place for the big battle set piece to come. The title, Stormborn, suggests that the episode will focus largely on Daenarys. The name was given to Daenarys because of a storm that wrecked most of the Targaryen fleet on the day of the birth. Perhaps the episode title could hint at a naval battle to come? But I’m probably reading too much into it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I’ll probably be back again next week with some notes on episode 2. Until then, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d like to read more check out the archives. To stay up to date with my writings, you can click the follow button on the right. And if you want to check out my fiction writing, you can read my second novel Carrion Youth for free over at Swoonreads.

Carrion Youth

Three teens aspire to popularity. But when it all goes wrong their party becomes a fight for survival.

Ethan Thomas and Chris Cooper just want to be “high school famous”. When their pursuit of popularity lands Ethan in trouble with the law and and bitten by a homeless man, he’s ready to give up on his dreams. Chris isn’t letting go so easily, and plans to make it up to him with an epic party in Ethan’s own house. It’s a night of firsts; Ethan’s first house part, first kiss and first time coughing up blood. His injury is worse than anyone ever expected and what starts as an out of control party becomes a violent fight for survival.

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My new novel, Carrion Youth is available to read for FREE only on Swoonreads.com.

Swoonreads is an imprint of MacMillan where you get to choose the next best selling novels. Your comments and ratings are considered by Swoonreads when choosing manuscipts for publication, which means when their books hit the shelves it’s because of your influence. There are hundreds of manuscripts to be read, covering every genre you can imagine. So if you love reading and think you know what makes a best seller, head over to Carrion Youth to have your say.

Awakened

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here. I repeat, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here. The most anticipated film of 2015 has finally arrived. It could either be the best thing since A New Hope or the largest disaster since Attack of the Clones (yes, I still think it’s worse than The Phantom Menace). This is Star Wars for a new generation and if done right it could endear a world of children to the franchise.

And they did it right. The visuals are stunning, the characters intriguing and the dialogue is a vast improvement on the stiled, hammy lines we got from George Lucas. There are lightsaber fights, blaster shootouts, electrical baton/lightsaber fights and X-Wing/TIE Fighter show downs. There are daring escapes, daring rescues and a whole bunch of other stuff I can’t state without spoiling everything. All you need to know is that it’s good and if you’re excited for this film you should definitely see it as soon as you can.

The First Order's Kylo Ren is the new villain in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, played in the film by Adam Driver.

Love Meeeeeeeeee!

Most people will be excited for reappearances of Leia, Han and Chewy but it’s the new cast members in the forms of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver whose performances bring the narrative to life. Boyega’s character, a turncoat stormtrooper, is one that we haven’t  really seen in the Star Wars franchise thus far and the film has great fun in the opening half hour demonstrating that Finn is actually quite a good shot. Rey is a scavenger pilot who is trying to do the right thing without really getting involved. Somewhat like Han Solo from the original film although she’s much more idealistic and open-minded to the power and effectiveness of the force. And Adam Driver does a great turn as an intimidating, conflicted character who is actually really confused about what the right choice is.

If there is a criticism to be made, it’s that The Force Awakens draws heavily on A New Hope. The story arcs for both films are remarkably similar. There’s enough in here for the series to feel new but there are large structural points which harken back to the first of the original trilogy. Without spoiling anything, the film begins with a droid with a secret on a quiet, desert planet being found by one of the main characters whose help is enlisted to complete it. That’s just the beginning. It’s not a terrible thing for the film to recall A New Hope. When last the franchise tried to be original we got the prequel trilogy. But I do feel that J. J. Abrams played it safe. So long as he followed the original film’s key points, he couldn’t really go wrong.

Mark Hamil's Luke Skywalker is notably absent from the film, aside from a few glimpses.

30 years on, Luke is a myth. There’s your gratitude.

This is just one film though, and it does end somewhat more optimistically than A New Hope. The Force Awakens may hold true to the traditions of the Star Wars franchise but there’s still plenty of potential for the future trilogy entries to take more risks in regards to structure and story development. Regardless of what this film replicates or how the series evolves, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is an intensely enjoyable affair. Treat yourself this Christmas by seeing the best film of 2015.

Speaking of Christmas, this will be my last post for this winter season. I thought it appropriate to end with a big one. But preposterprose will resume in the new year with new reviews and opinion pieces on subjects such as Fallout 4 and the various Christmas specials. Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jonesing

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to Jessica Jones. Daredevil was good but plagued by structural issues which left me less than enthusiastic for the next installments of Marvel’s alliance  with Netflix. On the contrary though Jessica Jones is a vast improvement on Daredevil. Melissa Rosenberg appears to have a handle on the character and crafting of the overall story arc that were largely missing from Drew Goddard’s Daredevil. In fact, I’d go as far to say this is one of the strongest serial shows to come out of both Marvel and Netflix.

Jessica Jones follows the titular Jessica Jones, a former superhero turned private investigator with a dark and traumatic past. She spends her days and nights drinking and stalking possible cheaters until one case brings her traumatic past to the present. The character, played by Krysten Ritter, was previously brainwashed by supervillain Kilgrave, with David Tennant appearing in the role. Jones managed to escape but now, at the beginning of the series, Kilgrave, who she previously thought to be dead, begins tormenting her once again.

Mike Colter and Krysten Ritter appear as Luke Cage and the titular Jessica Jones in the Marvel-Netflix superhero series, Jessica Jones.

Fighting super villains makes for a great meet cute.

Jones is a very conflicted character, wanting to be good but jaded from her experiences. More than just the typical anti-hero, who is painted as doing bad things for the right reasons, Jones’ story arc is very much about her ability to deal her trauma. Very often superheros are painted as being above human problems. Having a superhero dealing with post-traumatic stress and other psychological issues humanises them but it also makes them much more relatable. Krysten Ritter really brings her best in the role. So much so that she and her character’s personal story arc are two of the main reasons audiences will keep coming back to the series.

Segregation of the character’s personal development and the main plot is another strong reason to watch. Kilgrave is very much tied to Jessica’s growth but it’s not like dealing with him solves her problems. She still has issues and she still has to learn to deal with her issues without isolating herself and half drinking herself to death. But the series never wastes an episode. With Daredevil, there was a feeling that sometimes the episodes dwelled too much on Wilson Fisk without very much actual story progression. But even when Jessica Jones dives into Kilgrave’s background, it’s from Jessica’s perspective and effects both the characters and the story. It’s a very smooth and seamless integration.

David Tennant takes on a villainous role as the menacing mind controller Kilgrave in the latest Marvel-Netflix series, Jessica Jones.

The not so purple man.

If there are any problems with the series they are minor. At 50-something minutes long, episodes still feel a tad long and i’m not sure why Netflix appears to favour the longer format over the traditional 45-ish minutes that most series’ stick by. Aside from that, there’s probably only a couple of major twists that viewers might not see coming. The plot is at times predictable but no less enjoyable thanks to the performances and issues at play. And that’s the problems I had with Jessica Jones. Two small, trivial matters that in no way harmed my appreciation of the series.

Following Jessica Jones, I’m anticipating Luke Cage more and hoping that season 2 of Daredevil has learned from Jessica Jones’ success. But Jessica Jones has set the bar high and I will be eager to see if any of the other Defenders can reach it. Mike Colter does make an appearance as Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and based on that, I’d say the next Marvel-Netflix series is off to a strong start.

Friendship

Last week Marvel released the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War. Releasing the trailer now was a good idea as opinions on the film have been somewhat mixed. Most fans will expect Marvel to deliver a quality film, as all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entries thus far have been at least above average for the genre. But there are those who worried about the adaptation due to the source material. Reception to the comic book crossover was notably divided. The good news is that the cinematic version appears to be a much more streamlined version, focusing on Captain America’s attempts to protect Bucky Barnes from retribution.

Captain America: Civil War looks set to continue based on the tensions that have been building over the previous Captain America and Avengers films. Captain America: The First Avenger set up Steve Rogers’ friendship with Bucky Barnes, while The Winter Soldier turned that friendship on its head, revealing Bucky to be the titular Winter Soldier. With Hydra’s destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside, Captain America was left fighting to remind Bucky of their prior relationship. In the Ant-Man post-credit reveal, we saw that Captain America and Falcon had finally caught up to Bucky, now with all his memories intact.

Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Iron Man and Bucky Barnes for Captain America: Civil War

The subtitle ‘Iron Man V. Iron Arm’ was shot down in development.

What we can gleam from the trailer is that while Captain America has found Bucky, he’s not ready to give him over to the government to face trial or punishment. Captain America is operating on his own sense of justice and is fighting to be able decide Bucky’s fate. This prompts quite an interesting question of whether The Avengers are a law unto themselves or are an extension of the everyday police forces that simply deal with threats outside the realms of mortal men. And it’s a question that pits Iron Man and Captain America at odds.

Iron man isn’t normally one to side with the government, having spent much of Iron Man 2 trying to keep the Iron Man technology out of the hands of the government, but here he does seem to agree that Captain America isn’t acting lawfully. Iron Man and Captain America have never really gotten along, squaring up in The Avengers and actually fighting over the creation of Vision in Age of Ultron. Tony Stark says that they’re friends but they’ve never really been that close. Not as close as Rogers and Barnes.

Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter joins Anthony Mackie's Falcon, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Chris Evan's Captain America in the battle against Iron Man and the government in Captain America: Civil War.

When friendships are tested can anyone be trusted?

The real question is whether either one is in full knowledge of who they are supporting. Though he made no appearance in the trailer, we know from interviews and press releases that Hydra will return with Brock Rumlow, played by Frank Grillo, appearing as Crossbones. Comic book fans will know that Crossbones is important in Civil War canon. But does that mean he may be on Iron Man’s side, implying that Iron Man may be an unwitting pawn of Hydra. I’m sure Hydra would love to be governing when or where the Avengers can be called into action. Or is it possible that Bucky Barnes is playing at being a double agent? It seems unlikely that Hydra are happy to just lose their best agent.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions but the trailers did reveal a few things, such as the fact that most of the team left at the end of Age of Ultron is on Captain America’s side. Iron Man has War Machine and possibly Black Panther, who is probably pissed that the Avengers waltzed into his country without jurisdiction. Missing, or at least unseen, is Ant-Man, although given Hank Pym’s hatred of the Starks, he may side with Captain America purely out of spite. Captain America: Civil War will hit screens in  2016, but hopefully we get a couple more trailers and a few more answers before then.

Bidding

The government has finally gotten its wish. The Voice UK will no longer air on BBC following the upcoming fifth series. The loss of the talent show from the BBC One channel happened without interference from the government, instead coming about because the BBC were outbid for the continued airing rights. That’s unfortunate news but not groundbreaking. The Voice UK has been a nice alternative to the commercialism of X Factor and ITV but on the whole it has failed to produce any successful music artists.

Ricky Wilson, Paloma Faith, Boy George and Will I Am are the judges for the Fifth series of The Voice UK, and the last series to air on BBC.

Bets on ITV bringing back Tom Jones?

What’s more shocking is who might have outbid BBC for the rights. ITV is looking like the hot favourite at the minute, with some reports suggesting ITV have already signed the contract, while some rumours suggest it’s not a done deal yet. That ITV would want The Voice UK isn’t that surprising. BBC previously outbid ITV for the rights to the show. But it does mean that ITV has monopolised British singing competitions. While I wouldn’t be surprised if ITV aired both The Voice UK and X Factor ( and Britain’s Got Talent) it does seem like it might be overkill. So where does that leave X Factor?

Sky is the most popular choice. X Factor detractors will be happy to see the show gone from freeview and it will largely eliminate competition with The Voice UK. Simon Cowell likely isn’t happy with this outcome however as it leaves the X Factor on a channel where it will get less viewers and subsequently less votes. In a survey of 25.1 million homes in 2012, only 9.4 million were found to own Sky. Can any artist produced by X Factor on Sky really be said to represent the views of the voting public if that voting public represents less than half of UK homes?

Nick Grimshaw, Rita Ora, Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Simon Cowell as the X Factor live shows on ITV.

Rita just heard the news.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee that without the competition from X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent that the The Voice UK will draw better viewing figures or more successful music artists. Because one of the best ways a talent competition can draw an audience is by having a successful participant in the music charts years after the competition has ended. It gives credibility to the contest and the judges and thus far The Voice UK has utterly failed to produce any lasting success for any of its contestants. At least X Factor has had successful winners as well as runner ups who have become mainstays of the British music scene. Chances are The Voice UK will take X Factor’s current Saturday night slot against Strictly Come Dancing and there’s certainly no guarantee that The Voice UK will draw more viewers than Strictly.

The landscape of singing competitions and Saturday night television is changing. Maybe this is a good thing, as some changes to the Saturday night line up might create more engaging and interesting television. On the other hand, lack of direct competition usually allows for complacency which doesn’t generate compelling TV shows. Whatever the outcome, this is one less point that the government can criticise the BBC over.