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Blackwater Bay in Dolby Atmos.

It's like Hodor is standing next to you.

The series has a very unique and distinctive story structure. If you haven’t heard about it yet, here is the basic structure of the story. The main story takes place on Westeros; the great houses Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon fight for control of the Iron Throne. The second story takes place in the far north; The ancient order of the Night’s Watch defends the kingdom from the evils of the north. The third story takes place in the far east, on the continent of Essos; the sister of an exiled king tries to take back her kingdom. It ends up flawlessly weaving all of these in to a masterful and easy-to-understand experience.

“Blackwater” remains the series’ best episode and it shows the strengths of what Season 2 was able to accomplish. Staging a battle that put medieval sensibilities in touch with true carnage created an experience that beat recent cinematic memories. Everything was so balanced that it turned violence in an epic ballet of the fallen vs. the chosen. Plus, Cersei explaining to the women what will happen once the city is taken is truly wicked. It’s not that often that you get a moment to worry about those that are taken prisoner. But, old brother humper made sure that everyone knew.

The show is fancy, expensively made exploitation for a mass audience that outdoes in shock value even the kind that in the more refined and restrained past was presented only in cheap lurid grindhouse and drive-in flicks. It’s exploitation, but it not so much exploiting any particular person or group, as it is exploiting our natural human appetites for the bizarre, the disturbing, the tragic and the twisted. It’s the same set of primal impulses that made the Roman arena such a blockbuster. Realizing that aspect of Martin’s work is what helped to have this translate to HBO.

The Blu-Ray has been re-released due to the fact that HBO is remastering the show’s audio in Dolby Atmos. You also get a new steelbook and a collectible sigil magnet straight out of King’s Landing. The special features are ported over from the first release. You get tons of featurettes, 12 audio commentaries and character profiles. Still, the Atmos track is stunning. If your receiver can’t read Atmos, it’ll down mix into a nice Dolby TrueHD 7.1 setup. It’s quite the improvement over the original release. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase for audiophiles and people that didn’t pick up the first release.

RELEASE DATE: 11/3/2015

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