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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 9 Recap: ‘The Dance of Dragons’

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Game of Thrones is an ambitious show, in controversy as much as anything else. Why settle for setting the blogosphere ablaze like Drogon in a fighting pit when you can…well, set the blogosphere ablaze like this episode’s less triumphant, more stomach-churning use of fire? Fans have approached the show’s depiction of sexual violence with scrutiny—some justified, some excessive—for years. “The Dance of Dragons” suggests, sometimes explicitly, that we broaden our focus to all forms of violence in this grim, gory universe. Whether this is a trollish jab at the online hornets’ nest or an earnest attempt to make watching as difficult as it should be will depend on how much goodwill each viewer has left.
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Columbia University students gather to protest how their school handles sexual assault cases. : Courtesy of HBO

HBO’s ‘VICE’ Takes on Campus Rape: Will Public Shaming Force Schools to Take the Epidemic Seriously?

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Campus rape is shaping up to be the one of the biggest culture war flash points of 2015. A varied group of young activists, politicians, and a performance artist are advocating on the side of survivors — while a group of naysayers ranging from media skeptics to misogynist trolls on claim the “epidemic” of campus rape is widely overblown.

Enter HBO’s VICE and correspondent, Gianna Toboni, who decided to find out “why so many students feel that they’re not being kept safe” on American campuses, in a segment which airs tomorrow night. The series, which is typically either praised for the boldness or ridiculed for the foolishness of its forays into international danger zones, isn’t typically associated with American campuses. But, as Toboni told me on the phone, “at the start of every season, we look at what the biggest issues in the world are. And for us, safety on American campuses was on the top of the list.”
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How I Got Addicted to ‘Entourage,’ a Voyeuristic Show About Entitled Assholes

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In anticipation of the June release of its unnecessary big-screen adaptation, I binge-watched the entire Entourage television series. I feel horrible about watching eight seasons — 96 episodes — of HBO’s Ed-Hardy T-shirt of a television show, but I feel even worse about what I discovered toward the end: There was actually something strangely comforting about the entire process.
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: “Hardhome”

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As we count down the seconds until episode director Miguel Sapochnik’s attachment to some incredibly lucrative action franchise is announced, let us wonder: where the hell has this show been? Remember when Theon inspired even a sliver of emotional investment, or when Tyrion got to actually use his brain, or when a giant action sequence turned out to be worth the budget and screen time? Well, we sure do now! “Hardhome” exhibits all of this show’s best qualities, reminding exasperated viewers like me why we’ve kept the faith through missteps and midseason slumps. Not only did Game of Thrones give us a surprise sequel to “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall”; it also got back into its old-school groove with some character work, both before and during the final battle. 
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HBO’s ‘Nightingale': David Oyelowo Dazzles in an Astonishing One-Man Performance

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All things considered, it’s pretty silly to get worked up over the snubs and slights of the Oscars — it’s an awards ceremony that just plain gets things wrong, and always has. But it still rankled most sensible viewers to see Eddie Redmayne’s awards-courting turn in the decidedly mediocre Theory of Everything take Best Actor when David Oyelowo couldn’t even land a nomination for his masterful performance in Selma. It doesn’t ultimately matter, of course; that’s not only a performance that will last, but one of many from the actor. And here’s another: in the HBO original movie Nightingale (premiering tomorrow night) he performs something of an actor’s decathlon, inhabiting the picture’s only onscreen speaking role for 82 minutes. It’s an astonishing piece of work.
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: “The Gift”

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“I imagine this is strange for you,” the High Sparrow tells Olenna, always good for drawing a monologue or two out of her enemies. “Everyone you meet has a hidden motive, and you pride yourself on seeking it out. But I’m telling you a simple truth.” And yet “The Gift” reveals the High Sparrow to be exactly like the Game of Thrones power players the Queen of Thorns is used to dealing with. For one, he delivers that line during the most Game of Thrones-y scene possible: two people, alone in a room, having an eminently quotable verbal tennis match.
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 6 Recap: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

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The audience doesn’t really see the event that ends “Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken,” just two close-ups: the first on a terrified Sansa, the second on a man who identified himself as Theon Greyjoy just hours before. The second closeup lasts far longer, the emotion on its subject’s face rawer. That’s because, to make an already disgusting situation even more so, what happens to Sansa isn’t even about Sansa; it’s about teaching “Theon” he’s still Reek. It’s also about Game of Thrones destroying the narrative the show has constructed around her—deliberately, of course, but perhaps not wisely.
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HBO’s ‘Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop’ Questions the Legality of Gruesome Fantasies

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Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop isn’t true crime in the same sense as HBO’s recent docuseries The Jinx or the immensely popular podcast Serial. It doesn’t intend to solve a crime or even, really, to depict one. It’s more of a conversation starter, or a criminal justice course essay prompt: Can the law punish someone for their vile and murderous thoughts?
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 5 Recap: “Kill the Boy”

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to judge a Game of Thrones episode by its color palette. “Kill the Boy” takes place almost entirely in the North, meaning it’s dominated by blacks, whites, greys, and blues. After scene upon scene in a dirty kennel, dark hall, or dank library somewhere in the bowels of Castle Black, it’s hard not to miss the bright reds and golds of King’s Landing or Dorne. Even Meereen, normally a dependable source of blues and yellows—come to think of it, isn’t it odd for an entire city to color-coordinate its outfits?—is comparatively drab this week to match Dany’s mindset.
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