TV Rundown: April 6 - 11: 'Game of Thrones' Returns

Best Return: Game of Thrones: What a sight for sore eyes! Fans have had to wait an entire year for Tyrion, Arya and the Mother of Dragons, among others to make their valiant return and their patience finally paid off. The opening seconds packed a punch as the symbols of the House of Stark were dismantled, complete with the melting of their swords.

Elsewhere, characters were still reeling from last season’s brutal Red Wedding. Jon Snow made his way back to Castle Black to face the music for breaking his virginity oath with firebrand Wilding, Ygritte.

It was an episode lavished with beautiful cinematography and character intrigue. The only downside was the lack of Lord Varys, who always offers tremendous philosophical insight.

Best Cliffhanger: Bates Motel: We knew that Norman was destined to mentally unravel and during “Plunge” he waded even deeper into the abyss. The shocking conclusion of his latest outburst served as the perfect nail-biter to consume viewer’s anticipation for the next episode. Oh and Dylan was mauled by a cougar and not the four-legged kind.

Repetition Overload: Revenge: Every week it is the same thing. The episode teaser always hints that the jig is up for Emily and then…nothing happens.

Aiden and Emily are over and end up hooking up by episode’s end. Daniel channels his best Patrick Bateman, smiling with lunacy as he sips a drink and formulates a scheme that never comes to fruition. Victoria vows to destroy Emily and never even gets close. Nolan does his work as Emily’s lackey. Charlotte is awkwardly tied into the episode with her latest romantic drama.

Jack mopes about Emily/Amanda and passes judgment on any character not living up to his standards. Never acknowledging that he is holding onto the “love” he shared with Amanda/Emily when they were 5-years-old. Talk about a relationship built to last! Seriously though, few are who they are when they were 5, though Jack can easily be counted among those few. Sadly, the show has rid itself of its only interesting new character: Stevie.

Most Depraved Moment in Television: Vikings: The teaser for this week’s episode said that it was going to contain “the most shocking moment in television”. The only shocking thing was that it was aired on television in the first place.

Cable has been known to push the envelope, just this season “The Walking Dead” ended up in hot water for a controversial kill. The desire there seemed aimed at generating a debate on survival. The point of “Vikings” highly disturbing execution sequence is less clear.

The series has always been steeped in bloody imagery and disturbing violence, it’s been previously noted in this column. This week however, the content went over the edge with a depiction of gruesome torture. While last year’s human sacrifice episode was also upsetting, those characters were depicted going swiftly. The drawn out nature of this week’s episode was what pressed it past that scene.

At this point the series has sealed the tomb on Ragnar Lothbrock as any sort of protagonist. He is beyond any redemption, condemned as an inhumane antagonist. Jarl Borg’s sentence didn’t match the crime. He was not shown doing anything sadistic or cruel when he took over Ragnar’s lands, no distinct pillaging was shown. Ragnar’s retribution was over the top and he clearly derived pleasure from it. He is a psychopath.

Why should viewers care about what happens next to him or for that matter, any of the supporting characters, when they didn’t object or challenge his verdict? Not one character’s integrity survived unscathed for their actions or lack thereof and it makes one wonder what’s left to stick around for.
Relationship Whiplash: The Bold and the Beautiful: A couple weeks ago, Hope told her virulent cousin Ally that she loved Wyatt. This week she told Wyatt that she “really, really likes” him. A couple of weeks ago, they had seemingly committed to a monogamous relationship.

During Friday’s episode she said that they were not in a committed relationship. The writing on B&B has always been a tad inconsistent but this was extreme, even for the stylish soap.  The good news is in all other regards, the show is in fabulous form.

Greatest Villain Fatigue: General Hospital: In one week, Liesl Obrecht kidnapped a baby, held two people hostage, shot one of the said hostages and eventually wound up in jail. It seemed the end was near for the cartoonish villain, only to have it revealed that she has a secret son and sister. She has been dominating the role of villain, ever since she debuted on the show. At this point it has become overwrought. It’s time for a break and if she were to return, it should not be with more extended family.

[First Image by HBO, Second Image by CBS]

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