‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 – The Final ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Series By Robert Ball

And now our watch has ended.

After eight enthralling seasons, Game of Thrones finally came to an end in May 2019 and, needless to say, deaths of key characters came fast and furious in the short but eventful 6-episode final season.

It’s been a few weeks since the series finale, but UK-based artist Robert Ball eventually revealed the final Beautiful Death poster, the last of his incredible 74-poster series featuring the show’s iconic deaths that started way back in 2011 when Game of Thrones first premiered on HBO.

Let’s take a look at the final poster from “The Iron Throne”:

Beautiful Death GOT S806: “You are my Queen. Now and Always.”

The poster features two key deaths – that of the Iron Throne, under the fiery breath of Drogon, and that of one of the series’ most beloved characters, Daenerys Targaryen, at the hand of her lover/nephew/rival heir to the Iron Throne, Jon Snow. The key phrase is Jon’s last words to Dany before he fatally buries the knife into her heart, becoming a Queenslayer and Kinslayer in one fell swoop.

It’s amazing how Ball depicts Daenerys dying along with the burning Iron Throne, complete with Jon’s knife sticking at where her heart would be. As the Throne is engulfed in rubble made up of “1000 swords of Ageon’s enemies”, the red trail also outlines the bloody journey that the dragon queen took to get to the Red Keep including the deaths of her brother Viserys, the Sons of the Harpy, the Dothraki khals, slavemasters’ ships, etc. The look is meant to be gothic but it’s probably a coincidence that red and black also just happened to be the colors of House Targaryen.

Ultimately, as Ball informs makinggameofthrones.com, the poster is about “how power corrupts all” and is “an encapsulation of the whole series”.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Most Memorable Moments from the Final Season
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 6: The 20 Best Quotes From the Series Finale, “The Iron Throne”

And now that his watch has ended, here’s Robert Ball’s 5 other Beautiful Death posters from the final season of Game of Thrones.

Beautiful Death GOT S805: “Hello, Big Brother.”

Although I was somehow glad that the artist didn’t opt to focus on Daenery’s horrific heel turn of causing thousands of deaths in King’s Landing after the city’s surrender in “The Bells”, I felt the deaths of key main characters, Cersei and Jaime Lannister, should have garnered more importance over the deaths of the Clegane brothers in the episode. Cleganebowl was fascinating but a “Nothing Else Matters” poster featuring the Lannister siblings as the Red Keep and the city collapse around them could have been more poignant.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 5, “The Bells”

Beautiful Death GOT S804: “Dracarys.”

The Mother of Dragons may have popularised the High Valyrian term which means “dragonfire”, but fans will arguably remember Missandei’s last word much more now as it is the final straw that “awoke the dragon” that is Daenerys Stormborn. After the deaths of Ser Jorah Mormont, thousands of her Dothraki and Unsullied troops, and Rhaegal, seeing her best friend killed as well in a short period of just two episodes, you just know that fire and blood is coming to King’s Landing in the very next episode, courtesy of the dragon queen and her WMD that is Drogon. The poster shows Missandei’s last moment before she is executed by the Mountain as her dream to retire to the beaches of Naath with lover Grey Worm vaporises into thin air.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’

Beautiful Death GOT S803: “Not Today.”

Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Beric Dondarrion, Lyanna Mormont, Dolorous Edd, Qhono, and last but by no means least, the Night King. There were key deaths aplenty in “The Long Night” and Ball decided to feature all of them instead of just one for the Episode 3 poster. It was never a doubt, but after Arya Stark’s epic slaying of The Night King, “Not Today” will definitely go down as one of the most iconic quotes from Game of Thrones, two words that we could all say to the god of death when the critical moment arrives (if need be).

Read also:
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”

Beautiful Death GOT S802: “…But at least We Die Together.”

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a rare Game of Thrones episode where there was not a single death to report. Easily the best episode of Season 8–beautifully written by Bryan Cogman–the best scenes came from the fireplace ensemble in Winterfell’s Great Hall where Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, (pre Ser) Brienne of Tarth, Podrick, Ser Davos Seaworth and Tormund Giantsbane gathered to prepare for the upcoming war against the undead in which survival is very unlikely. Surprisingly, despite the quote by Tormund (which he uttered in the war council meeting and not in this scene), all six characters survived the Great War. Turn the poster upside down to see four of them drawn onto the floor…

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”

Beautiful Death GOT S801: “It’s a Message from the Night King.”

The first Beautiful Death poster of Season 8 sees Ser Beric Dondarrion and Tormund Giantsbane flanking Ned Umber as the poor lad resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs at Last Hearth. The Night King’s message is that he and his minions are on the way to Winterfell. The more worrying message though is how Ball bathes Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment in a bloody waterfall, with Jon’s cape drawn to look like a dragon’s wing, indicating the sledgehammer revelation of his true parentage that is to come by the episode’s end.

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
*The 20 Best Tyrion Lannister Quotes from ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons One to Eight

Robert Ball’s complete Game of Thrones’ Beautiful Death series can be seen at https://beautifuldeath.com/

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‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 1’s ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Features The Night King’s Message

It was when I attended the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience featuring Ramin Djawadi in Belfast last year that I discovered the Beautiful Death art series by artist Robert Ball. I wanted a memento from the concert and the concert merchandise that caught my eye was a colorful poster featuring a dozen of artistic depictions of memorable death scenes from the first seven seasons of the HBO blockbuster series.

From the Business Insider, I learnt that the London-based illustrator has been producing an artwork after every GOT episode where there’s a key death sequence since Season 1, with HBO providing him via e-mail with the “quote from the week”, as well as the subject for the week’s “beautiful death”.

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GAME OF THRONES’ SEASON 8 EPISODE 1 IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCH THE EPISODE.)

With the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones kicking off this month, Ball has released his first Beautiful Death poster which features the horrific death of young Ned Umber at Last Hearth in the premiere episode. You can see the beautifully illustrated poster below:

“It’s A Message From the Night King…”

The quote is uttered by Ser Beric Dondarrion after he set the dead Umber lad on fire when he resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs. Hence you can see the six-time born-again lightning lord (left centre) and Tormund Giantsbane (right centre) flanking the image of Ned Umber as it was them who found the young lord at Last Hearth. The Night King has his icy hands around the boy to show how he was used as a tool to relay a message to the living.

“Nothing Lasts…” – Varys

What’s worrying is that Ball has also drawn in Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment by the waterfall except that the couple is now bathed in bloody waters. That’s not good news. The cool bit is how Ball made Jon’s cape to look like the wing of a dragon indicating the sledgehammer revelation that is to come by the end of the episode.

The “foreshadowing” is in line with another theme from the Season 8 premiere episode which implies that “youth and happiness, and Jon and Daenerys’ brief moments together, will ‘never last’”, as Ball informed makingameofthrones.com. (Sob.)

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?

Iconic Beautiful Death Posters – Seasons 1-7

As Season 8’s well-scripted Episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, is one of the rare GOT episodes not to feature a single death, it’s safe to say there won’t be a Beautiful Death artpiece released this week.
(UPDATE: I was wrong, there was a poster and a good one too which you can see at this link here.)

So, let’s take a look back at the most iconic Beautiful Death moments from the past seven seasons by Robert Ball:

The Execution of Ned Stark
Season 1 Episode 9

The Battle of Blackwater
Season 2 Episode 9

The Red Wedding
Season 3 Episode 9

Ygritte’s Demise at Castle Black
Season 4 Episode 9

Massacre at Hardhome
Season 5 Episode 8

Destruction of the Sept of Baelor
Season 6 Episode 10

Loot Train Attack
Season 7 Episode 4

Game of Thrones Season 8 is on Sundays (USA) / Mondays (Asia) till May 19, with a special two-hour documentary, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, on May 26.

Read also:
7 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Eight Things You Should Know About The Battle of Winterfell in Season Eight
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

April 2019 TV & Movie Highlights: From ‘Game Of Thrones’ To ‘Killing Eve’, Avengers to Anime

Being a longtime TV and movie fan, I don’t recall if ever there was a single month in a single year that touts TV returns and new film releases that have my interests at heart as much as this coming April.

From the final season of the fantasy epic series Game of Thrones, to the brilliant TV spy thriller Killing Eve, to cool anime productions from Japan, here are five highlights to look out for come April 2019:

1. Killing Eve Season 2

Will Jodie Comer’s Villanelle be hell-bent on killing Eve in Killing Eve Season 2? [Credit: BBC America]

Voted and awarded as one of 2018’s best TV shows by many big-name media outlets, Killing Eve is one of the most ingenious series to be seen on TV for quite some time. Focusing on an intriguing cat-and-mouse chase between jaded M16 agent Eve Polastri and psychopathic assassin Villanelle, performances are outstanding with Sandra Oh rightfully sweeping most of the best TV drama actress awards, although co-star Jodie Comer deserved the accolades just as much. Season 2 promises to be just as sharp and intense (and funny) as it was for Season 1, even though show-runner Phoebe Waller-Bridge did not do any writing (but a good writer friend of hers did). Can’t wait!
Killing Eve Season 2 premieres on Sunday, April 7, BBC America.

Read also:
* ‘Killing Eve’ Season 2: What to Expect When the Acclaimed Psycho Thriller Returns
* Five Behind-The-Scene Things You Should Know About ‘Killing Eve’

2. Game Of Thrones Season 8

Will it be a bittersweet victory for Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones‘ final season? [Credit: HBO]

Winter seriously took a long time in coming if you are a Game of Thrones fan. With an almost 18-month gap between Season 7 and its upcoming final season, it’s arguably the second longest hiatus period in TV history (The Sopranos holds the record if I’m not mistaken; and not counting series reboots.) But David Benioff and Dan Weiss promised that the wait will be worth it, with each of the six episodes almost feature-length and with big battles galore. What most fans care about though is who dies, who lives, and most importantly, who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. George RR Martin says it will be a “bittersweet victory”, but victory for whom? The Night King? Queen Cersei? Brrrr, the thought of it.
Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premieres on Sunday, April 14, HBO.

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
*  ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

3. Okko’s Inn

If you are a Studio Ghibli fan like me, you’ll be glad to know that animators who have left the famed Hayao Miyazaki studio are doing their part to produce adorable Studio-Ghibli-like films for film lovers to enjoy. This year, Kitaro Kosaka, a key animator on many of Studio Ghibli’s box office hits, brings us Okko’s Inn, a story of a young girl who, while training to be the junior innkeeper of her grandma’s traditional Japanese inn, discovers that she can see the spirits that live in the building. The supernatural beings have to be put on the back-burner however as a string of guests arrive who will test Okko’s mantle to be a gracious host. Will she prevail? We bet our Totoro stuffed toys that she will!
Okko’s Inn opens in selected U.S. theaters on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Read also:
* 6 Great Fantasy Films That Studio Ponoc’s ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Will Lovingly Remind You Of
* Why J.J. Abrams’ ‘Your Name’ Adaptation Might Not Be Such a Great Idea
* 5 Things We Want to See in Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park in 2022
* Studio Ghibli Sees First East-west Collaboration in the Wordless Wonder ‘The Red Turtle’

4. Avengers: Endgame

Half of the universe, including many of our heroes, vaporized into thin air by super villain Thanos at the end of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Can the remaining Avengers—Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, et al —do damage control? Or can they do the impossible and turn back time to before the Mad Titan snapped his fingers? Either way, Endgame marks the end of the Infinity Stones story arc in the MCU. And I’m guessing that most of our heroes who we think have bite the dust will make it back alive considering—SPOILER—young Peter Parker, to name but one, will be back for more adventures in Spider-Man: Far from Home (23rd MCU film due out July 2019), which reportedly takes place after events in Endgame…
Avengers: Endgame is in U.S. theaters from Thursday, April 26, 2019.

Read also:
* Hammer Time! Who Keeps Marvel Actors Safe Behind the Scenes of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

5. Attack On Titan Season 3 Part II

Based on the best-selling Japanese manga, Attack on Titan is one of the most exciting anime series in recent times thanks to its captivating animation style, intriguing plot-lines and gripping action. Story tells of a remnant of humanity who lives behind walled cities to protect themselves against giant humanoid creatures that eat humans. By Season 3, the Survey Corps, led by their charismatic captain, Levi Ackerman, has discovered that the humanoids are actually created by the ruling royal family to keep citizens in check. Part 1 sees the Corps including Eren Yeager—the only Titan helping to protect humanity—tackling these human enemies; while Part II will see them take on former comrades Reiner Braun (Armored Titan) and Bertholdt Hoover (Colossal Titan), and their “chief”, the Beast Titan, who may have a shocking secret to reveal…
Attack on Titan Season 3 returns Sunday, April 29, 2019, various anime channels.

Read also:
* ‘Attack on Titan’ Season 3: Humans Are the New Threat

Makeful: Inspiring The Creatives At Heart

2018-09-19 14.44.47 (640x367)It’s always fun to see creative people making something out of nothing — whether it’s as simple as folding cranes out of paper, or making a cartoon character come to life with balls of rice. So it was great to know that to mark its Asia debut on Starhub TV Channel 436, lifestyle specialty channel Makeful HD is launching the #MakefulInspires movement—in collaboration with IKEA Singapore—that will showcase talented Singapore makers through short clips shown on their channel , as well as a series of workshops that aim to stir passion and creativity in every Singaporean.

At the Makeful HD launch held at IKEA Tampines, Musings on the M49 (MOTM49) got to meet three of the five local makers featured in the Makeful shorts. These are scheduled to be shown in eight slots daily on the channel inbetween regular programming starting from October and will also be shared on Makeful’s various digital platforms.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Food Artist Shirley Wong (@littlemissbento)

First up was Ms Shirley Wong, famously known as @LittleMissBento on Instagram (ISG) and highly popular for her amazing character creations for Japanese bento lunch box sets, which range from cutesy Disney creatures to Japanese manga icons. It was nice to meet the affable food artist again as I’m a big fan, faithfully following her every creation on ISG. For the launch, Shirley had specially made the cute panda set pictured above, which seriously can make adults, let alone kids, eat all their vegetables obediently!

Ms Wong revealed that she only works towards creating a “designer” meal once every day, which means, yes, her family gets to eat “normal” looking food too. She also disclosed that she does do sketches of what she plan to create the night before as it will easier to visualize it as well as knowing what ingredients she will need. When asked by MOTM49  what characters are the most difficult to make, Ms Wong said, “Definitely the manga characters as you have to get the whole look right, from the eyes to the hair.”

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Bespoke, Up-cycled and Handmade Furniture Maker Jackie Tan of Triple Eyelid Studio (@tripleeyelid)

Next up was the thorn among the roses, Jackie Tan whose company Triple Eyelid designs custom-made furniture based on materials that the clients provide which can range from beer crates to leftover marble stabs. That is seriously very cool considering we all need to do our bit to reduce environmental waste as much as possible. Take for example the 50 bespoke mooncake crates pictured above which he made from reused wood for a corporate client.

Another creative item he made was using the bottom half of an old manual sewing machine and simply attached  a wooden top on it—and voila!—a unique and totally usable table! The special phone stands on the right were what the media received in our goodie bag. Lovely.

Makeful Shorts’ Artist: Paper and Mixed Media Craft Maker Aida Haron (@aidaville)

Memories are big with Aida Haron and hence just hand her a bunch of colored pens, colored papers, various embellishments, and photographs, and she can create a handmade scrapbook layout for you. The former flight attendent loves to remember the good moments in life and would like to help others to remember theirs too, which brings her much joy. Aida’s art pieces come in all forms – it can be as big as wall plaques or as handy as greeting cards such as the ones below.


Makeful Workshops and Contest

2018-09-19 14.43.53 (640x357)

Aida Haron at her workdesk. [Credit: Makeful Asia]

As part of the #MakefulInspires movement, Aida will be the first local maker to kick off the series of quarterly Makeful workshops. Starting on Saturday October 13, 2018 and to be held at IKEA Alexandria, the Aida Haron craft-making workshop is exclusive to Makeful fans, Starhub subscribers and Aida’s social media followers. There will also be a contest from October 15 where members of the public will get a chance to win an IKEA Gift Card worth $1,000. For more details, visit Makeful’s Facebook page @bemakeful.

2018-09-19 14.43.49 (640x360)

Shirley Wong totally engrossed in her next creation. [Credit: Makeful Asia]


Don’t forget to catch the Makeful shorts on Singapore makers on the Makeful channel or its social media platforms.

Makeful HD, part of Blue Ant Media, is available via Starhub TV Channel 436.

 

5 Most Memorable Moments From ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Finale Mural

‘Star Wars Rebels’ is a worthy addition to the Star Wars Universe [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

It wasn’t love at first sight. When Star Wars Rebels premiered in 2014, it took a while to warm up to the animated series and its motley crew of characters which includes a rogue Jedi who did not quite complete his training and a Force-sensitive kid who was not very endearing from the word go. Plus the fact that you just cannot but compare it to the just-ended and much superior Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014; Season 7 will debut in 2019).

Thankfully, Star Wars Rebels slowly grew from strength to strength. Not only did its core characters became more compelling, the series also produced numerous intriguing story arcs (all canon) that, most often than not, are linked to beloved characters and fan favorites from the original trilogy, the prequels, Rogue One, and, yes, The Clone Wars.

With the recent release of Star Wars Rebels Season 4 on Blu-ray and DVD, here’s a look-back at five of the most memorable moments from all four seasons.

5. Darth Vader Cometh

Star-Wars-Rebels-Darth-Vader-Siege-of-Lothal-Season 2 premiere

Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 2 premiere [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

The Dark Lord’s appearance in the Season 2 premiere, “The Siege of Lothal”, shows just how scary and ruthless this iconic villain is, even in cartoon form. That we were absolutely terrified for Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger’s lives when they take on Darth Vader two-to-one – to be fair, they didn’t know who or what he was then – is an understatement. Equally memorable was the look of horror on Ahsoka Tano’s face when she, using her Force sensitivity on board the Ghost, discovers that the dude terrorizing her associates is none other than her former Master, Anakin Skywalker, who also senses her presence as he coldly murmurs, “The apprentice lives…” Shudder.

4. Sabine’s Darksaber Training

star-wars-rebels-S3E14-sabine-trials of the darksaber

Sabine trains with Kanan in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 3 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

Kanan training Sabine Wren on how to use the Darksaber in Season 3 Episode 15, “Trials of the Darksaber”, is one of the most well-written sequences in Star Wars Rebels. Not only do we get to see how the now-blind Kanan has grown to be a more confident and matured teacher/mentor, it also reveals Sabine’s heartache of being long shunned by her own family and Mandalorian people for designing the very weapons that the Empire used against their home planet. Their fierce sparring is also one of the coolest lightsaber duels ever seen on screen.

Read also:
* How ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Expanded George Lucas’s Lightsaber Mythology for the Darksaber

3. A Whole New World

star-wars-rebels-ezra-ahsoka-a world-between-worlds-S4E13

Ezra rescues Ahsoka from the past in ‘A World Between Worlds’ in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

Time travel (a first in Star Wars), a whole new world and Ahsoka lives! In Season 4 Episode 13, “A World Between Worlds”, Ezra finds a cosmic space behind an ancient painting in the Lothal Jedi Temple where he can hear voices including that of Yoda, Obi-wan Kenobi and Princess Leia, as well as many portals to the past. After rescuing Ahsoka from being finished off by Darth Vader in their duel (depicted in Season 2’s finale), the young Jedi wanted to rescue Kanan from dying (three episodes earlier, see #1 below), only to be reminded by Ahsoka that saving Kanan means the rest of the Ghost crew dies. Which leaves us to cry along with Ezra as we watch his Master’s demise yet again in the flashback…

2. Duel Of The Fates Part 2
star-wars-rebels-S3-twin-suns-kenobi-maul

Long before Solo: A Star Wars StoryStar Wars Rebels fans knew former Sith Lord (Darth) Maul was alive and well. Well, up until he met up with his old adversary Obi-wan in Season 3 Episode 20, “Twin Suns.” Swearing vengeance on the Jedi Master since The Clone Wars, the much anticipated duel between the two end literally in a blink of an eye. If that wasn’t artful enough, Obi-wan holding Maul in his arms compassionately as the latter lays dying – inquiring with his last breath if the one who the old Jedi is protecting is “the chosen one” – was another memorable moment.

1. Kanan’s Last Hurrah

Star Wars Rebels Season 4_Jedi Night_Kanan

Kanan’s a hero till the end in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4 [Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

As it was long informed by series creator Dave Filoni that Star Wars Rebels’ final season will lead up to events depicted in Rogue One (2016), we kinda know Kanan, being a Jedi, won’t make it out of the series alive. Still, it was heartwrenching to see him sacrificing himself, even if he did go out in a blaze of glory, saving the people he loves in Season 4 Episode 10, “Jedi Night.”  Kanan Force-pushing Hera away to prevent her from stopping him – with his eyes seemingly becoming clear – was equally heartbreaking as the two have just openly declared their love for each other. Haiz.

Which is your favorite moment in Star Wars Rebels? Let me know in the comments below!

Read also:
Hope, There Is: 5 Highlights From ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Series Finale
Rebel Heart: Mon Mothma Finally Rallies the Troops on ‘Star Wars Rebels’
* 4 ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Easter Eggs in ‘Rogue One’
The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

Must-See TV: ‘Killing Eve’ Is A Killer Of A Thriller

Killing Eve poster_BBC America

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer star in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

It’s been a while since I was blown away by a new television series such as Jude Law’s papal-based The Young Pope (2016) and Tom Hardy’s gritty Victorian drama Taboo (2017). Well, Killing Eve is “it” for 2018. A killer thriller like no other, the BBC America series is suspenseful and unpredictable, filled with dry humor, fascinating locations (both dodgy and exotic), and standout performances from its two leads.

(Minor spoilers of Killing Eve Season 1 ahead. You’ve been warned.)

Story tells of a jaded London-based security intelligence officer Eve Polastri (Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh) who becomes obsessed in tracking down a highly-skilled Russian assassin codenamed Villanelle (The White Princess’ Jodie Comer) who is efficiently executing prominent people in ghastly fashion across Europe.

Based on the Villanelle novellas by novelist and dance critic of The Observer, Luke Jennings, and adapted by the multi-talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame, Killing Eve is an unconventional cat-and-mouse chase that grabs your attention by the first episode with dry humor you least expect from a spy drama tinged with grim killings. The show, which premiered in April, has since garnered two Emmy nominations for outstanding writing in a drama series (for Waller-Bridge) and best lead actress in a drama series (for Oh, who created Emmy history by being the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated in this category).

Sandra Oh’s Triumphant Return To TV

Rellik


Sandra Oh is Emmy-nominated for her role as Eve Polastri in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

It’s a joy to see Sandra Oh back on the small screen. The first time we see her character Eve Polastri, she is screaming hysterically in bed, scaring her husband Nico (Owen McDonnell) – and us the viewers – as she was in pain having “fell asleep on both my arms”. Right there and then, you know you are watching a spy series like no other.

Eve is someone whom most people could identify with. Practical yet disorganized at times, she turns up at a meeting late, gets glared at by the big boss, yet proceeds to nibble her breakfast buy in spite of being further frowned upon by everyone in the room. Ambitious but not recognized for her keen criminologist’s mind, Eve finally gets her chance to shine when enigmatic M16 operative Carolyn Martens (an exceptional Fiona Shaw, a.k.a Aunt Petunia to Harry Potter fans) assigns her in an off-the-record capacity to hunt down Villanelle. Unfortunately, Eve’s new responsibility turns into an obsession that put the lives of her loved ones and colleagues – including her own – at risk.

Oh is well-cast as Eve, an intelligent yet occasionally blur blob who easily shifts between moods of over-confidence and insecurity, aggressiveness and vulnerability, within seconds. The versatile Korean-Canadian also brings a huge amount of underdog vitality to Eve that makes you want to root for her all the way. The Emmy nomination is but a small indication of just how brilliant Sandra is in the role.

Jodie Comer’s Star Turn As A Sassy Cold Blooded Assassin

killing-eve-jodie-comer-villanelle


Jodie Comer is a breeze of fresh air as sociopathic assassin Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: BBC America]

Make no mistake, the chillingly effective assassin that Eve is after is a nasty piece of work. Villanelle kills in frightful albeit creative ways without batting an eyelid, has no qualms of mistreating children or the elderly alike, and every lifeform she comes in contact with means nothing and is expendable to her.

Yet, you can’t help but develop some unexplained sympathy for the young attractive woman (mesmerizingly played by Jodie Comer), wondering if there is something really, really bad in the past that triggered Villanelle to be the soulless person that she is. Is she hankering for a father figure judging by the relationship with her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia)? Though totally independent, she also crave for brief companionship with strangers (male and female alike) but who wouldn’t lose any sleep if any one of these would meet with an unexpected demise. It’s due to uncharacteristic sloppiness on Villanelle’s part during her last kill – a witness was left alive – that led Eve on her trail. A chance meeting between the two protagonists set up the show’s intriguing cat-and-mouse chase as both women gets equally obsessed in tracking each other down.

Comer, last seen as Elizabeth of York in The White Princess, has a gem of a role to play as the cunning killer-for-hire. Her Villanelle is cold, crafty, charming and flirty, with a dash of vulnerable childishness that makes you wish someone like Eve will eventually save her from the immoral abyss that she’s in. Truth be told, the Liverpool native truly deserved an Emmy nomination too. Here’s to Jodie earning a few nominations of her own come awards season.

Cool, Slick Location Graphic Signposting

killing-eve-bletcham-super-screenshot


Location Graphic in ‘Killing Eve’ [Credit: Screen-grab from BBC America]

Next to sublime performances and unintentionally funny dialogue, there’s a lot of other bits to like about Killing Eve such as the series’ big bold capitalized location graphic signposting that tells the viewer where the action is taking place such as London, Paris, Berlin, Tuscany and Moscow (which is actually Bucharest standing in for the Russian capital). A rib-ticklin’ moment is when a tiny English village Bletcham gets equal prominence with the metropolitan cities of Europe when a key event takes place in its vicinity. Even the opening titles are cool, with a thin trickle of blood flowing down on a different letter of “Killing Eve” in each of its eight episodes. #cooltouch

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Northern Ireland: ‘Game of Thrones’ Locations To Visit North Of Belfast

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The Dark Hedges a.k.a. The Kingsroad [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

As 2018 marks the final year of filming for Game of Thrones, I reckoned it was a good time as any to check out the HBO megahit’s picturesque filming locations in Northern Ireland (NI) before its eighth and final season rolls out in 2019. In my previous Travel post, I highlighted the GOT filming sites located south of Belfast that one can easily get to via a coach tour. In this post, it will be the locations north of Belfast.

As Northern Ireland’s most famous natural attraction – the Giant’s Causeway – is in proximity to many GOT film locations up north, most tours include this attraction. So I booked the Game of Thrones and Giant’s Causeway Full-Day Tour via Viator as at £36, it was cheaper than most. Managed by McComb’s Coach Travel (mccombscoaches.com), its claim to GOT fame is that they were a longtime transport provider for the show and its GOT Location Tour along the Causeway Coastal Route also received a 5-star rating from Tourism Ireland.

From Belfast city centre, the tour first took us along the scenic Antrim Coastal Road flanked by the robust Irish Sea on the right and the charming Glens of Antrim on the left. Our driver-guide Derek is a chatty chap who gave us much GOT and NI information, as well as some of the lamest dad jokes ever.

1. Carnlough Harbour

About an hour in, we arrived at the small coastal village of Carnlough where the GOT attraction is the cobblestone harbour steps featured in Season 6 Episode 7 when Arya Stark resurfaces from the Braavos canal after being attacked by the Waif. Not sure how clean the waters are but much respect for Maisie Williams considering how immersed in the waters she was while shooting the scene!

2. Cushendun Caves

A half-hour drive further north is the quaint village of Cushendun where, next to the mesmerizing sight of big waves crushing onto gigantic rocks along the coastline, you will find the 400 million-years-old caves depicting a cove in the Stormlands in which a horrified Ser Davos Seaworth witnesses Melisandre giving birth to a shadow assassin that eventually kills Renly Baratheon in Season 2 Episode 4.

SPOILER ALERT: Weeks after our visit here, the area was closed off for what Irish GOT location watchers suspected to be filming for Season 8. Will there be action in Storm’s End or the Stormlands in the final season? Your guess is as good as mine.

3. The Dark Hedges

This beautiful 18th Century avenue with about 100 beech trees leading up to Gracehill House has become arguably the most iconic Game of Thrones location ever since it appeared as the Kingsroad that Arya and Gendry travel on to escape King’s Landing in Season 2 Episode 2. Located further inland away from the eastern coastline, Derek brought us here during “lunchtime” in order to avoid the crowds from other tours, yet many people still there were. To see the “most recognisable” part of the trees with the distinctive arching branches, you have to walk at least halfway down the avenue. I’d have loved to walk down the entire avenue but on a coach tour with a packed schedule, we don’t have that luxury.

4. The Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy

Lunch was at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy after a jaunt to the Giant’s Causeway. Besides great food and beer, what’s cool about the pub/restaurant is that it has a replica of the Iron Throne, complete with cloak and sword for you to pose with, PLUS Door 6 of the Door of Thrones series depicting Season 6 events. The ten pubs with the doors indicate that there are GOT film locations nearby. This one highlights House Targaryen, namely Daenerys Stormborn’s dragon Drogon and the Dothraki horses finally crossing the Narrow Sea towards Westeros. The doors were specially crafted from fallen branches from the Dark Hedges after a storm hit them in 2016. Ingenious marketing, really.

5. Ballintoy Harbour

Just a few minutes away from the lunch venue, at the end of a long and winding downhill road, is the quaint Ballintoy Harbour that stands in for Pkye and the Iron Islands. Theon Greyjoy is baptised here in Season 2, and is also the venue for Euron’s drowning and rebirth in Season 6.

SPOILER ALERT: According to Derek, this location was much used for Season 8 filming. Maybe we will get to see Theon completing his redemption arc, like saving sister Yara from uncle Euron maybe?

6. Larrybane

Another popular NI attraction located nearby is the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge which, after crossing it, leads to Larrybane Quarry which not only offers breathtaking panoramic views of islands and headlands in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s also the site for Renly’s camp in the Stormlands in Season 2 and where Brienne of Tarth was named to Renly’s Kingsguard. In Season 6, it was used as the Kingsmoot setting. From here, it was about a two-hour scenic drive down south back to Belfast.

All in all, there are about 18 GOT locations north of Belfast but not every one is easily accessible. One example is Fair Head – located further east of Larrybane – which provides the spectacular cliffs of Dragonstone in Season 7 on which Danerys, Jon Snow and Drogon share a special moment, among other significant scenes.

For a GOT fan, this McCombs tour is adequate with sufficient information and videos played in the bus before we set off on foot for most locations. Don’t get me wrong – our driver-guide was great but for a “total” GOT immersive experience, you might want to consider tours that have a separate guide who could accompany the tour group to every site and explain in detail how each sequence was filmed at the spot. Also, during long distances, past episodes of Game of Thrones episodes will be shown instead. Some even have costumes and props thrown in.

Still, for £35 (not including lunch and rope bridge fee), this tour is still a good alternative. If you are keen to cover every location, customized tours are available with various GOT tour groups. Or download the GOT Filming Locations Northern Ireland app which provide directions to the locations and you can adventure on your own (just read the instructions carefully as many are inaccessible or are private land).

Things to Note for the Tour:
1. There’s a lot of walking (uphill, downhill) so dress right with proper outdoor shoes and clothes befitting the Northern Irish weather
2. You need to have moderate fitness; not recommended for anyone with limited mobility
3.  Bring water, although there are locations where you can buy drinks

(All Game of Thrones images – Credit: HBO)

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