5 Most Memorable Moments From ‘Star Wars Rebels’

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‘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

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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

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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

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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
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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

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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’

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

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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 coolly executing prominent people in ghastly fashion across Europe.

Based on the Villanelle novellas by 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

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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

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

Make no mistake, the chillingly efficient assassin that Eve is after is a nasty piece of work. Villanelle kills in horrible 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 herself. Here’s to Jodie earning a few nods of her own come awards season.

Cool, Slick Location Graphic Signposting

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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

Great to know that Season 2 for Killing Eve is already green-lighted. Will definitely re-watch Season 1 again before the next one rolls out reportedly in 2019.

Read also:
* Five Behind-The-Scene Things You Should Know About ‘Killing Eve’

Killing Eve is available for binge-watching on BBC America on demand.

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)

Read also:
‘Game Of Thrones’: 5 Heroic Deeds Jaime Lannister May Achieve in Season 8
* ‘Games Of Thrones’: 10 Essential Reunions At Winterfell We’d Like To See In Season 8
‘Game of Thrones’: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King in Season 8

‘Game of Thrones’ Live Concert Experience 2018 : An Exquisite Extravaganza

2018-05-25 22.36.38-1 (640x640)Next to gripping story lines, captivating performances and show-stopping battle scenes, a top highlight in the award-winning HBO epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is its stirring musical scores composed by Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man, Westworld).

The soundtrack for last year’s Season 7 is in particular brilliant in every sense of the word; so much so that Game of Thrones garnered its first Grammy nomination in the Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category, with Djawadi up against four movie  nominees namely Arrival, Dunkirk, Hidden Figures and La La Land (the eventual winner).
2018-05-25 22.34.48 (640x562)So when it was announced that Ramin Djawadi will embark on yet another Game of Thrones live concert tour featuring show music up to Season 7, I knew it was an experience I just have to, er, experience for myself. I chose to fly to Belfast to see the show last month on May 25 ‘cos not only is Northern Ireland “Game of Thrones Territory”, the venue SSE Arena is also just a stone’s throw away from Titanic Studios where most of the interior scenes of the hit series is shot. Add to that, it would give me a chance to tour Belfast – a city I’d yet to visit then – as well as various GOT filming locations throughout the country.

A FEAST FOR THE EARS & EYES
The 2018 Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in Belfast features a custom stage, full orchestra (Ulster Orchestra), choir (Belfast Philharmonic), soloists, pyrotechnics, lighting effects and specially edited footage from the show.  Before the concert’s actual start, the audience were thrilled when over the intercom, Queen Cersei (voiced by the magnificent Lena Headey) icily informed those who do not silence their phones “will be boiled alive in the blood of their children…” The chilly announcement was understandably greeted with thunderous applause!

2018-05-25 20.26.14 (538x640)The concert kicked off with the unmistakable Game of Thrones theme, which really put everyone in the mood for more. As music scores from the first six seasons played, solo singers and musicians made full use of the extended catwalk stage, of which a major highlight was this violinist who soared almost 40 feet into the air as she performed a haunting House Stark theme.

L1170969 (640x480)There were so much action both on stage and on the big screen that sometimes you are torn between wanting to watch the show’s footage which you have already seen (but will never get tired of) or the soloists doing their bit live.

Djawadi, the talented genius that he is, performed a couple of solos too using either custom-made or unique musical instruments, as did a couple of musicians ranging from percussionists to horn players.

L1170979 (640x358)Most of the goose-bump-raising moments came from several dramatic events such as The Red Wedding, The Battle of the Bastards and Destruction of the Great Sept Of Baelor, the latter complete with green “wildfire” fumes engulfing Djawadi after his solo on a raised stage. Visually stunning, audibly heart-stopping.

SEASON 7’S HIGH POINTS
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The second act was devoted to music from Season 7 which, if truth be told, I was looking forward to the most. From the poignant ‘Home’ as Arya Stark returns to Winterfell to the heartbreaking ‘Truth’ a.k.a Jon and Dany’s love theme, thanks to the almost flawless performance of the orchestra, one does feel as if transported to the realms of Westeros alongside the show’s characters. The dry ice effect on stage also helped much in making the audience imagined that they were in the miserly cold north too.

L1170986 (640x351)One of the most thrilling Season 7 events was of course Episode 4’s The Loot Train Attack which was presented with loads of fire pyrotechnics as Daenerys and Drogon breathed down on the Lannister army. Actually, there’s always some fire sprouts on stage whenever the dragons popped up on screen, much to anyone’s delight.

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With Game of Thrones Season 7 ending – SPOILER ALERT – with the Night King and a resurrected Viserion bringing down the Wall, one thought the concert would end on that somber note but thankfully that wasn’t the case…

L1170997 (640x466)After making his thank you’s to all and sundry – including Game of Thrones crew members from the nearby Titanic Studios – Djawadi and company ended the over 2-hour-long show with yet another vigorous performance of the totally hummable theme song.

2018-05-25 22.40.12-1 (640x535)The really nice touch at the end, after the performers had taken their bows, was an In Memoriam segment featuring the dearly – and not so dearly – departed characters from Game of Thrones. Needless to say, this was a rather long sequence so most of us sat back down onto our seats. It was fun to hear cheers for favorites such as Ned and Rob Stark, Lady Olenna Tyrell and of course Hodor. The most hisses and boos was given to understandably Ramsey Bolton, while Littlefinger received sarcastic applause.

A MUST-SEE IF YOU LOVE ‘GAME OF THRONES’
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All in all, the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is worth every penny and a must-see if you are a big GOT fan. It’s akin to seven years of show highlights packaged as an extravaganza of live music and visual effects. Utterly exquisite.

The European leg of this year’s tour just ended in London yesterday. It will move on to Canada and America from September to October 2018. You can find more details on gameofthronesconcert.com. If you love classical music, with dramatic imagery to go along with it, you’d definitely enjoy the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience 2018.

Here’s hoping that the concert will come to Asia and also be released on digital/DVD format!

Read also:
‘Game Of Thrones’: 5 Heroic Deeds Jaime Lannister May Achieve in Season 8
* ‘Games Of Thrones’: 10 Essential Reunions At Winterfell We’d Like To See In Season 8
‘Game of Thrones’: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King in Season 8

8 Unlikely Moments We Want To See In ‘The X-Files’ Season 11

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‘The X-Files’ [Credit: Fox]


When The X-Files (1993-2002) made a six-episode return in 2016, ratings were phenomenally good for the 23-year-old franchise, averaging about 16 million viewers per episode. Though the “television event series” wasn’t as perfect as fans hoped it could be, it still didn’t take Fox long to green-light a brand new season comprising of 10 episodes for 2018.

Currently filming in Vancouver, Season 11 of the sci-fi series, which deals with unexplained phenomena, will see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their roles as the world’s most famous FBI special agents, Fox Mulder (“the believer”) and Dana Scully (“the skeptic”). Both stars and series creator Chris Carter have since dropped many hints on what fans can expect in the forthcoming season, from the long-awaited appearance of the agents’ long-lost son William to Easter-eggs referencing The X-Files’ past. Based on what has been revealed so far, here are eight fairly unlikely outcomes that we’d love to be surprised with in Season 11.

1. A Happy Reunion For Mulder, Scully And William

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Anderson and Duchovny in ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 [ Credit: Fox]


Giving up William, the son that she shares with Mulder, for adoption 15 years ago is something that agent Scully never quite forgiven herself for. Just as the agents’ close relationship was confirmed in the 2008 movie, The X-Files: Fight the Future (they have since broke up romantically), fans have long hoped that Scully will get closure on how her son is faring. So it was good to learn from Carter that the hunt for William will be a major storyline in the new season.

We want nothing more than a happy family reunion for William and his long-suffering parents, but when a hospitalized Scully tells Mulder to find “him” in the Season 11 teaser trailer – is she referring to William and has he become a dangerous threat to humanity? It’s safe to say that a reunion there will be but it will be anything but blissful. We just have to wait and see if there will be a happy ending for our heroes and their (now) teenage son.

2. A Little Less Miller And Einstein

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Amell and Ambrose with Anderson in ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 [ Credit: Fox]


In Season 10, we were introduced to two young FBI special agents, Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) and Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose). It seems to be a move by Fox to see if a new generation of The X-Files is possible if these new, younger characters were well received. Well, they weren’t: Miller the “believer” was called bland, while Einstein “the skeptic” was thought to be annoying. Of all the good news about Season 11, that these two agents will be returning isn’t one of them. Here’s hoping that they will be hardly seen, allowing Mulder and Scully to do what they do best without much interference.

3. The Classic “Scully Red”

Sorry folks, Gillian Anderson still wears a wig for the new season. The award-winning actress has dyed her hair so many times she’s afraid that tresses of her crowning glory will drop off soon and that was the main reason why she wore a wig for Season 10. Many fans disliked it, calling it unflattering, haggard, and stated that it wasn’t the right “Scully red”. If it’s any consolation, Anderson promised that the color of the new wig is “redder this time”. Let us be the judge of that.

4. More Comedic Episodes

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David Duchovny in the “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster” episode of THE X-FILES Season 10 [Credit: Fox]


Last season, the funniest episode among the six installments was by a mile, “Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster”. Opinions were split between die-hard fans who loved it and casual followers, who openly disliked it. Comedic episodes have always been part of the original series’ DNA and both Duchovny and Anderson shine in light-hearted episodes that are filled with funny dialogue and, yes, silly monsters.

With eight episodes devoted to monsters-of-the-week story lines next year, we are not expecting a funny episode every other week (that would be silly). The larger mythology of The X-Files remains the agents’ constant quest in stopping the powers that be from destroying humanity. But at least one funny, out-of-the-box episode is a must. Thankfully, there is and it is written no less by fan-favorite writer and director Darin Morgan, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the 1995 episode “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. Carter tells Entertainment Weekly that the episode will be something special:

“As you come to expect with a Darin Morgan episode, it’s original, idiosyncratic, very, very funny — it’s a thumb in the eye of the show itself.”

In the same interview, Duchovny elaborated on Morgan’s inputs:

“Darin seems to have a special hatred of Mulder. He’s exorcising some personal demons by attacking the character of Mulder. I love the scripts and I find it very interesting to try to play the same character while deconstructing and self-destructing the character at the same time.”

5. Less Blasts From The Past

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Cigarette Smoking Man [Credit: Fox]


For the new season, primarily we would want to know what’s in store in the future for Mulder and Scully, rather than finding out about other characters’ back history. But this is wishful thinking as it is already confirmed that there will be two episodes devoted to two key figures from the past.

The season’s opener will focus on a backstory for the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B Davis), detailing why the chain smoker does the devious things he do and also his apparent family ties to Mulder. It’s been long hinted that Mulder and his main nemesis share a Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker-like relationship.

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Walter Skinner [Credit: Fox]


The agents’ ex-boss, Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), will also get a backstory, centering on the time when he was a young agent. Why we need this after all these years is a mystery but – at the very least – the episode can finally shed some light on why the Vietnam War veteran suffers from recurring dreams of an old woman.

6. Stellar Guest Stars In The Same Vein As Lily Tomlin and Jodie Foster

During The X-Files’ initial run, many big-name stars made guest appearances on the show. A huge fan, Jodie Foster voiced a talking tattoo in the 1996 “Never Again” episode, while Lily Tomlin starred in one of series’ most funniest episodes in 1998’s “How The Ghosts Stole Christmas”.

Although it is unlikely we will get to see these two marquee stars in the new season, an Emmy-winning actress who will be seen in a recurring role is Barbara Hershey (A Killing in a Small Town) who will play a new character named Erika Price, a powerful figure from a mysterious organization.

Another treat for long-time fans is that actress Karin Konoval (The Planet of the Apes trilogy), who famously played a mutant-breeding amputee kept under a bed in one of The X-Files’ most disturbing episodes, 1996’s “Home”, will make a return as a special guest performer. She will play not one but four characters, including two male roles. Judging by what we seen of her in the Season 11 trailer, expect to be mesmerized by Ms Konoval at every turn!

7. Scully Gets Her Own Desk

It has always been a running joke that Scully never has her own working desk in the FBI offices, not even after 23 years. Alas, it seems the situation will remain the same in Season 11. But as Anderson tells Entertainment Weekly, it’s a simple situation for her character to deal with.

“I think she’s taking over Mulder’s desk.”

8. No More Cliffhangers

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The X-Files Season 10 Finale [Credit: Fox]


Finally, even though Carter hinted that Season 11 may just end on another cliffhanger, we hope he will re-consider it. I mean, most fans were delighted when The X-Files made a comeback last year but most would also have been satisfied if last season’s “event series” tied up all loose ends by the last episode. Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, there was a finale cliffhanger that sees Mulder possibly dying and Scully seemingly being abducted by aliens again.

Truth be told, another season of The X-Files will make even the most die-hard fan feel that the show, iconic as it is, has almost worn out its welcome. For one, the alien abduction and government conspiracy narratives seem a tad old-school and redundant in today’s climate, no matter how much love we have for them. Even star herself has indicated that Season 11 may be the last run for her and many would rather have her starring and producing another season of The Fall, while  could focus on writing more hilarious novels – particularly because his Holy Cowa New York Times best-seller, is a literary hoot!

It will be a wiser move if Carter and his writing team sew up the much-beloved series with a decent finale that will cover all bases and provide closures in every aspect, rather than leaving some hanging for a Season 12. It is already the longest-running sci-fi series in American network television history, so here’s to The X-Files ending gracefully by its next season.

The X-Files Season 11 returns on Fox on January 3, 2018.

Should The X-Files have a Season 12? Let me know in the comments.

(Source: ew.com)

 

 

 

Artistic Wonders: Animated Prequels That Provide Insightful Back Stories To Shows Such As ‘Blade Runner 2049’ And ‘Train to Busan’

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‘Blade Runner Black Out 2022’ [Credit: Warner Bros]

Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford may not have been the box office hit that its producers and diehard fans hoped for, but it is still a remarkable film in more ways than one. For instance, it is a rare recent film that has not one but three short prequels commissioned to provide back stories to events that happened between Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, which took place in 2019, and Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, set 30 years later.

Directed by Luke Scott (son of Ridley), the first two prequels 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run provide background stories on the characters Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), both of whom featured in Blade Runner 2049. But it’s the third prequel, the animated short titled Blade Runner Black Out 2022, that created the most buzz.

An Animated Prequel: ‘Blade Runner Black Out 2022’

Set in Los Angeles three years after the original Blade Runner, the action-packed short tells of how after mobs of angry humans start killing replicants with natural life-spans. Two Nexus 8 replicants – military combat model Iggy and pleasure model Trixie – decide to fight back by creating a massive power outage that became known as the Great Blackout of 2022, “a darkness the humans have never seen.”

Brilliantly animated, the 15-minute prequel is written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. The clip also offers a few callbacks to the original Blade Runner, such as Trixie’s acrobatic skills – which is reminiscent of Daryl Hannah’s Pris – while LAPD blade runner Gaff is voiced by the original actor, Edward James Olmos.

However, Blade Runner 2049 is not the first cinematic production to have an animated prequel specifically made to provide a backstory for viewers. If you loved the concept. here are a few other fantastic animated prequels that may be of interest.

1. Snowpiercer (2013) Animated Prequel

Futuristic sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, directed by The Host’s Bong Joon Ho and starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, focuses on the last remnants of humanity seeking refuge as an apocalyptic earth experiences a new ice age.

Its 4-minute animated prequel was produced to explain how the world turned icy cold after a disastrous attempt to end global warming triggers an ice age instead. Violence arose among the human race as they fight each other to get on board the train that runs on a special engine. The feature film picks up years later when a class system has arisen on the Snowpiercer and a revolution is about to erupt between the lower and upper classes.

The stunning short uses 3D animation albeit with static human characters, yet fear and violence is effectively portrayed through the use of light, sound and special effects. Yona (Ko Asung) narrates the short in Korean, but thankfully there are English subtitles. Effective and well-animated, the prequel helps viewers understand the chaotic scenario featured at the start of Snowpiercer.

2. 47 Ronin (2013) – ‘The Way of the Warrior’

If you can accept Keanu Reeves as a half-Japanese, half-Caucasian samurai, 47 Ronin is actually quite straightforward. Still, the producers felt a prequel was necessary to explain the film’s mythical premise. Set in 18th Century feudal Japan, the 4-minute short relates the tale of 47 great samurai whose lives turned topsy turvy when their master was killed by an evil lord. Forced to become wandering ronin (masterless samurai), the band set out to restore their master’s honor by seeking out his killers, while tackling human and mythical dangers along the way.

Employing 2D animation with splashes of bold colors, The Way of the Warrior is like watching Japanese ink paintings come to life. The short film is worth watching for the chief samurai’s fight with a fire-breathing dragon alone.

3. Train to Busan (2016) – ‘Seoul Station’

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‘Seoul Station’ [Credit: Finecut]

Train to Busan, 2016’s zombies-on-a-train hit from South Korea, was one of Asia’s biggest success stories in 2016. This even allowed director Yeon Sang-ho, who’s known for his animated works such as The King of Pigs and The Fake, to commercially release another zombie-related film titled Seoul Station.

Unlike other animated prequels mentioned in this article, Seoul Station is a full-length feature. And though it is regarded as a prequel to Train to Busanits plotline is actually quite different from its live-action counterpart, the only similarity being that the zombie uprising starts at the Seoul’s central railway terminus. However, it does give a more concise idea of how the undead pandemic started.

Whether you’ve seen Train to Busan or not (and you should if you haven’t), Seoul Station is worth watching on its own accord. It is a social commentary in the guise of a horror flick, using the premise of a zombie pandemic to highlight contemporary social issues such as misogyny, homelessness and ruthless manhandling tactics by authorities.

4. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion – An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms (2017)

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‘Games of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion’ [Credit: HBO]

With Season 7 done and dusted and Season 8 still far on the horizon, HBO is doing all they can to keep Game of Thrones fans occupied in the meantime. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion is a storybook-style animated history special that tells of turbulent events that took place in and outside Westeros thousands of years before the TV series started.

Part one of the 45-minute special is “Valyria’s Last Scion: House Targaryen”. It tells of the Doom of Valyria, which sees Aegon Targaryen (not Jon Snow, but his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror) sailing across to Westeros with his two sister-wives and conquering all the lands that their three dragons could breathe fire on.

Richly animated and accompanied with the familiar score from TV series, the first chapter is narrated by Harry Lloyd, who played Daenerys Targaryen’s irksome brother Viserys on the show.

The rest of the chapters, which will likely cover events all the way to Robert’s Rebellion, will only be available on exclusive Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season DVD & Blu-ray™ sets (that carry the bonus disc) due out on December 12, 2017.

5. The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) – ‘The Animatrix’

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‘The Animatrix’ – “Final Flight of the Osiris” [Credit: Warner Home Video]

One of the earlier film franchises to produce animated prequels was the Wachowski’s ground-breaking Matrix trilogy. They weren’t the first to do so but they were certainly among the most ambitious. The Animatrix, conceived and overseen by the talented siblings, is a compilation of nine animated short films based on the Keanu Reeves-led sci-fi franchise.

The idea for the intensive animated project came about when the brothers were promoting The Matrix film in Japan and met up with anime creators who had influenced their work. The first of these shorts is the 10-minute “Final Flight of the Osiris,” a direct prequel to The Matrix Reloaded. Other shorts, such as “The Second Renaissance Part I and II,” tell of the rise of the machines and their ultimate war with man that led to the creation of the computer-generated virtual reality. Comprising different forms and styles of animation, each short film is a cinematic animated achievement in its own right.

Throughout the years, these animated prequels have served a great purpose for fans, as we eagerly seek out more information on our favorite fandoms.

From Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – the Animatrix of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy – to Star Wars‘s Forces of Destiny series (2017) and the Transformers franchise’s upcoming animated features, these creative prequels are definitely here to stay.

Which animated prequel do you know of that should be added to the above list? Drop me a note below.

Fan Theory: Will Jon Snow Use Dawn To Slay The Night King In ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8?

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Jon Snow (played by Kit Harrington) with Longclaw in ‘Game of Thrones’ [Credit: HBO]


From ‘Battle of the Bastards’ to the ‘Loot Train Attack’, Game of Thrones has never failed to up their ante when providing viewers with arguably the finest medieval battle scenes ever seen on television. And one of the key battles in the HBO fantasy series’ upcoming and final season will be without question The Great War, the long-anticipated all-out war between the living and the dead. As seen in Game of Thrones Season 7’s finale, the 8-millenia-old Wall came tumbling down no thanks to The Night King and his newly reanimated, blue fire-breathing dragon (RIP Viserion), allowing his legions of White Walkers and army of the dead to enter Westeros.

Though Jon Snow managed to round up the lords of the north, the Free Folk, the Night’s Watch, the Vale and Daenerys Targaryen to fight the Long Night alongside him, there are many who feel that the Great War’s endgame will ultimately come down to a one-to-one face-off between the King in the North and The Night King.

Jon Snow Needs More Than Dragonfire and Dragonglass To Take Down The Night King

Yes, Jon and his merry men now have weapons made of dragonglass, possess a handful of Valyrian steel weapons and even have Daenerys and her dragons. But for an epic duel to take place, it will take more than these to defeat the Night King, especially when it appears that neither fire nor dragonfire actually affect The Night King.

Ever since Jon Snow demolished a White Walker and its ice blade with his trusty Valyrian Steel sword, Longclaw, at the massacre at Hardhome, the Night King has been fixated on the Stark lad, judging by their epic stare-down at the harbor. Before they met eye-to-eye again in the episode “Beyond the Wall”, Jon and his suicide squad discover that killing a White Walker will also kill off the wights that it turned.

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Jon Snow kills a White Walker with Longclaw at Hardhome [Credit: HBO]

Later, when surrounded by the dead on an ice lake, Beric Dondarrion points out to Jon that killing the Night King would kill the entire army of the dead as “he turned them all”. The Lord of Light devotee also attests that considering Jon and him have been brought back to life – in Beric’s case, six times – killing the Night King might just be their primary purpose in this lifetime. Jon seems inclined to believe that he, and only he, can take on the Night King.

In addition, now that it has been revealed that he is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryan and Lyanna Stark, one of the most popular fan theories is that Jon (a.k.a Aegon Targaryen) IS the reincarnation of Azor Ahai (even though Aunt Daenerys technically ticks more boxes, but that’s a debate for another article).

Thousands of years ago, the legendary hero is said to have defeated the darkness of the Great Other after forging the sword, Lightbringer. The feat was, however, only achieved after he plunged the sword into the heart of his loving wife, Nissa Nissa, to unleash its full fiery powers. If Jon is indeed the new Azor Ahai, or The Prince That Was Promised, his Lightbringer may need to be something more special than Longclaw (and hopefully one that doesn’t need to be plunged into the bosom of a loved one).

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‘Game of Thrones’ Animated History – Dance of the Dragons [Credit: HBO]

Considering he’s part Targaryen, we might just get to see him ride a dragon to tackle the Night King mid-air whilst wielding a formidable sword! It will be cool to see a dragon Vs. dragon duel scene a la Prince Daemon Targaryen who – during the civil war Dance of the Dragons in the Battle Above the Gods Eye – fatally stabbed his nephew, Prince Aemond. He did so by leaping from the back of his dragon and plunging Dark Sister, the famous Valyrian steel sword of Aegon the Conqueror’s sister-queen Visenya into the prince’s only good eye.

So, Which Sword Is Jon likely To Use As Lightbringer?

A couple of notable Valyrian Steel swords are making their way to Winterfell, and one of these might just be what Jon needs to wield to defeat the archenemy of all humanity. Let’s take a look at each candidate:

Longclaw

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Jon Snow’s Longclaw sword [Credit: HBO]

Jon’s current sword was, for five centuries, the ancestral weapon of House Mormont. It was given to him by Jeor Mormont (albeit with a direwolf hilt) after Jon saved the old Lord Commander from a wight. When they went beyond the wall, Jon then tries to return it to Ser Jorah, who told Jon to keep it as “it serves you well… and your children after you.”

However, as effective as it is, it’s likely that Jon will be wielding another sword for the final conflict.

Heartsbane

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Samwell Tarly with the family ancestral sword Heartsbane [Credit: HBO]

Samwell Tarly took the family’s ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, under his father’s nose, so it’s now at Winterfell. This two-handed greatsword has been with House Tarly for 500 years and it’s posible that Sam will hand Heartsbane to Jon to strike into the “heart of winter,” just as the sword’s name suggests.

Some, however, feel that he might even use it to protect his family. Then again, it could also be loaned to a good swordsman (such as The Hound) for better use at the frontline.

Oathkeeper

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Brienne of Tarth with Oathkeeper [Credit: HBO]

This Valyrian steel longsword was one of two made from Ice, House Stark’s ancestral greatsword last used by Ned Stark. It was initially given to Jaime Lannister by his father Lord Tywin but the Kingslayer never really took to it. After a series of adventures together, Jaime gave it to Brienne of Tarth. Christened “Oathkeeper” by Brienne, the lady knight used it to beat the Hound and execute Stannis Baratheon, prior to rescuing Sansa from the Boltons. Which brings us to Oathkeeper’s sister blade, Widow’s Wail.

Widow’s Wail

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Olenna Tyrell asks Jaime Lannister about Widow’s Wail [ Credit: HBO]

The second Valyrian steel longsword made from Ice was given as a wedding gift by Lord Tywin to his grandson, King Joffrey, who sarcastically named it Widow’s Wail. After Joffrey died, we learnt from “The Queen’s Justice” that Jaime Lannister has taken it on after Olenna Tyrell asks if Jaime will use “his son’s sword” to kill her.

As we know, Jamie left Cersei and is on his way to Winterfell to keep his oath to fight alongside the North, so Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail will come together at some point. Some fans believed that Gendry will be called upon to reforge Ice from the two swords as Robert Baratheon’s bastard is a blacksmith who knows how to work with Valyrian steel. Many would like to see Jon bringing Ice back to its old glory, but considering that the North will need as many Valyrian steel swords as possible, melding two swords into one just doesn’t sound like a wise idea.

Dark Sister

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Could that be the Targaryen sword, Dark Sister, by the tree? [Credit: HBO]

As one of the two Valyrian steel ancestral longswords of House Targaryen – the other being Blackfyre – Dark Sister is famously used by Queen Visenya Targaryen, who conquered Westeros alongside her brother Aegon and sister Rhaenys. The sword is said to be last used by Lord Brynden Rivers, a Targaryen bastard who became the Three-Eyed Raven whom Bran and Meera Reed met in the cave beyond the Wall. This is why some fans believed that the sword picked up by Meera at the cave entrance as she and the Children of the Forest attempt to escape from the Night King and his cronies could be Dark Sister.

If Meera and her family (including Howland Reed, who was at the Tower of Joy with Ned Stark) were to join Jon and fight against the Long Night, then Dark Sister may also make its way to Winterfell. However, Jon is unlikely to use it as the sword is believed to be forged for a woman’s hand. Being a true blue Targaryen, Dany should be the recipient.

If truth be told, the best person to inherit Dark Sister would be Arya Stark. The baby-faced assassin has indicated her fascination with Queen Visenya during her tete-a-tete with Lord Tywin in Season 2, and being the Stark sister with a dark side, no Valyrian steel sword would be more apt for Arya (bar the Catspaw dagger).

Last but not least, another sword (albeit not made of Valyrian steel) comes into play as well.

“Only The Prince Who Was Promised Can Bring The Dawn” – Melisandre

Dawn

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Ser Arthur Dayne with greatsword Dawn [Credit: HBO]

This famous ancestral greatsword of House Dayne was first seen in one of Bran’s visions, held by Ser Arthur Dayne, one of the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen, at the Tower of Joy where Jon Snow was born.

According to legend, Dawn is regarded as a magical sword as it was forged from the heart of a fallen star (possibly a meteorite) and has been with House Dayne for 10,000 years. Its blade is as pale as milkglass and just as strong and sharp as Valyrian steel.

Also in the same vision, after killing Arthur Dayne with his own sword, the young Ned brought Dawn up to the room where he finds his sister Lyanna and strategically placed the sword at the front of the bed. Some fan communities believe that as Jon is “The Prince Who Was Promised”, then he would be the one to bring forth “the dawn” as the darkness of winter arrives.

Using Dawn may be very literal but many feel that it is significant as, in order to protect the North from the Others, Jon would be using the same sword that protected him and his mother at the Tower of Joy.

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Ned Stark places Dawn at the foot of Lyanna’s bed where Jon was born [Credit: HBO]

Considering that it was never indicated on the TV show that Ned actually returned the sword to House Dayne, some fans believe Dawn is hidden in the Winterfell crypts, along with Rhaegar’s silver-stringed harp, which will help prove Jon’s true lineage.

Even though some fans counter argued that only a knight of House Dayne deemed worthy can wield Dawn, a few also pointed out that as a Targaryen, Jon – and even Daenerys, for that matter – is genetically related to House Dayne via their ancestor Maekar Targaryen, who was married to a Dyanna Dayne. As such, Jon is more than qualified to lay claim to Dawn since no other Dayne has done so.

“Only The Prince That Was Promised will bring the dawn”, as Melisandre keeps saying. If Jon is indeed the Prince That Was Promised, could “Promise me, Ned” be another literal coincidence? If so, then Dawn could be the Lightbringer, which will bring down the Night King.

Do you think Dawn will be Jon’s weapon of choice? Leave me a comment below!

(Source: Talking Thrones)