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Two years ago, Haunted MTL brought you 13 short stories dedicated to the holiday demon titled the 13 Days of Krampus. We are continuing our tales of Yuletide terror with another exclusive series of holiday horror stories: The Twelve Nightmares of the Holidays. Be sure to check out our previous authors stories here for even more festive frights. Today marks day 6 of holiday nightmares and with it, I gift to you “Coming to Town“.

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Tonight’s the night 6-year-old Andy Mercer has been patiently waiting for, Christmas Eve. For the past few years, Andy has made it a point to fall asleep on the family sofa in their living room in hopes of seeing Christmas’ official icon, Santa Claus. Unfortunately, each year he has attempted this tradition, he’s failed to catch a glimpse of the magical holiday figure, not this year. You see, Andy has a brilliant plan, one in which he’s been plotting with fierce fervor and precision. Tonight’s the night he will prove Saint Nicolas is real, the night he will capture video of the big man in red. All he needs are cozy blankets, plenty of hot cocoa, a charger and his trusty iPhone. Rushing to gather all his essentials for the night’s holiday stake-out, Andy is ready.

Every year for Christmas Eve, it was tradition for Andy’s mom to bake sugar cookies using a secret family recipe, while his father hid in the master bedroom performing last minute gift wrapping. As his family prepared for tomorrow’s big day, it was Andy’s duty to watch Santa’s location through the intricately scientific “Santa Watch” tracking system provided to him by his locally televised news station. His eyes fixed on the screen as he watched Santa’s sleigh inch closer to his neighborhood with each passing minute. “Andy, sweetie?” his mother said, walking into the living room. “Andy, can you please stop watching Santa Claus for a minute and help me?” her hands filled with a tray of freshly baked cookies for Santa, the sweet aroma wafting through the air. Finally breaking his gaze from the screen “But Mom! This is important! Look!… look how close he is!” thrusting his finger at the television.

“Yes dear. I see.” she replied in an exasperated tone. “But Santa Watch can wait a second while you help your mom with these cookies and milk” motioning the tray up as the half-filled glass of milk slightly jiggles. 

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“Just 1 second mom.” Andy says as he turns back to face the television.

“Andy…” his mother’s tone slightly raised.

“Andy! Help your mother with the cookies or I’ll eat them myself!” Andy’s father instigates from the other room. 

“No, you won’t!” Yelling back Andy jumps off the couch and rushes towards his mother hurriedly grabbing the tray of cookies from her hand, almost spilling the glass of milk in the process. The pattering of his footsteps on the hardwood floors brings a chuckle to his mother as she lovingly watches her little, short brown-haired helper carry the delectable treats for Santa to the living room table. 

“Ok sweetie, it’s time to start getting ready for bed, otherwise Santa Claus is going to fly past our house because SOMEONE is still awake.” Andy’s mother exclaims, her hands on her hips. 

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 “Ugh, do I have to?” Andy asks in frustration.

“Well, if you don’t want your Christmas presents from Santa then be my guest.” shrugging her shoulders “Stay up as long as you like.” Andy’s mother says in a deceitful tone. “But don’t be upset if you wake up in the morning and see Santa Claus didn’t leave you any gifts.” As she turns to walk away, a slight smirk paints across her face.

“Ok, ok, ok. I’ll get ready for bed” Andy reluctantly claims, his feet shuffling back to the black suede couch. What she doesn’t know is he’s been secretly waiting for his bedtime announcement for the past hour. Sneakily hiding his phone behind one of the family pictures resting on the fireplace. The cord from his charger perfectly camouflaged with all the other dangling cables from the mantle. 

While Andy’s mother wrapped him snug in his fleece blanket, the sound of their laughter and his father’s battle with the flimsy wrapping paper in the other room drowned out the sudden announcement cutting over the yearly Santa Watch live feed:

“Residents of Cain County, police are on the lookout for an escaped mental patient standing 6’3, weighing 245 lbs., dressed in Santa Claus attire. Local police are advising all residents to lock all doors and windows as the suspect is considered armed and extremely dangerous. He has been seen carrying a large red sack, and wearing what police are describing as a life-like Santa Claus fa-”

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Before finishing the breaking news announcement, the voice is suddenly silenced as Andy’s mother presses the power button on the remote control lying on the armrest of the couch.  Brushing her hand through his hair, she stares at him and softly says “Goodnight Andy. I love you sweetie. We’ll see you in the morning” planting a kiss on his tiny forehead. 

“Bleh, gross!” Andy says with a smile as he playfully wipes his brow, “I love you too, Mom.” Once confirmed she has left the room, Andy quickly springs from the couch tip toeing to the fireplace to enact his perfectly thought-out plan, his finger firm as he hits the record button on his phone. 

“I’ll get you this year Santa” he says while rubbing his hands together. With Santa’s cookies enticingly displayed and Andy’s phone set to record, “Now we wait” he thought to himself. Hours passed as Andy attempted to wait up, only to yet again fail in traditional fashion, falling fast asleep dreaming of the newest toys and gifts Santa would be bringing him. As he lay in his deep slumber, the sudden sound of presents shifting under the tree startled him, his eyes bursting open peering towards the glistening Christmas tree. His eyes adjusting to the light he stared in shock, not believing what, no, whose back he was staring at. A sense of elation coursing through his body.  There he was, the man himself, Santa Claus as real as can be. The large black boots, the red and white fur coat, his iconic hat. It was Kris Kringle. Andy rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he sat on the couch watching Saint Nicolas scrummaging through his large scarlet sack of toys lying next to his feet. He couldn’t help but feel elated 

“You’re real!” Andy exclaims in a spurt of excitement, startling the holiday figure. As he looks up from his sack of presents, his head quickly turns in the direction of the young boy, making him jump in the process. 

“I’m sorry Santa! I didn’t mean to scare you!” Andy apologizes. 

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 “Shhh.” remarks Santa, his index finger pressed to his lips, rising from his hunched position. His large stature begins to walk towards Andy, the bells wrapped around his thick waist jingle with each *thomp* from his heavy boots. Reaching the end of the living room table, he stands there silently looming over the small boy, his body motionless. Andy stares back, though anxiously as a look of confusion begins to wash over him. This wasn’t quite how he pictured Santa Claus. For one, he was much taller and more husky rather than round and stout. His suit appeared weathered with splotches of dirt and some type of crimson substance on the white fur lining the ends of his coat. At his waist was an abnormally long candy cane pointed at the end, with the same red substance dripping from the tips point and starting to pool on the wood floor. Was it frosting? Or red ink maybe? With the room dimly lit only by the multi-colored lights on the tree, Andy was unable to tell. What was even more unsettling was the face that stared back at him. Though it looked like Santa Claus, something was…off. Almost as if he were wearing a mask of his own face. It was fuller than the rest of his frame, but his eyes were hard to see, almost sunken in appearing as black circles. The closer Andy examined, he could make out the outline of Santa’s face more, a streak of red running down either side almost as if he had been cut. Almost as if Santa was wearing a mask of sorts. “But…why does Santa need to wear a mask? Especially one so scary?” he nervously thought to himself.

drawn image of "Santa Claus"  or rather, an escaped mental patient dressed as him. He stands there, sharpened candy cane grasped in his right hand, blood dripping down point. Splotches of blood cover the white fur lining of his coat. His iconic hat tilted to one side. Peering closed into his eyes, you see this is not his face no, this is a mask...a flesh mask. Streaks of crimson run down his grey dingy beard. His eyes black in shadow. A door creaked open to his right blows in flakes of snow behind him.
You better watch out…(drawing courtesy of MoxToons (@MoxToons) / Twitter)

“Santa, are you ok?” Andy asks nervously. Santa stands there looking back, no response.

“Did you hurt yourself going down our chimney?” Andy quickly follows-up, a faint draft wisping past his face. As he looks to see where the chill is coming from, his eyes glance upon Santa’s boot prints leading from the tree to their front door. There it was, slightly ajar, flakes of snow fluttering through the entryway. Andy turns back at Santa to see him shaking his head “no” in response.

“Oh um…ok.” Andy’s voice shakingly replies. 

“Did you bring me any presents this year?” he asks, trying to shift his attention from the door as he looks up into Santa’s stiff emotionless face. Tilting his head ever so slightly to the right, Santa hesitates in his response, simply staring at Andy only to slowly nod his head “yes”, revealing a decadently wrapped Christmas present with a gold bow from behind his back. With eager joy, Andy reaches for the gift only for Santa to quickly pull it back, waving one of his fingers back and forth.

“Guh, do I really have to wait until the morning Santa?” as his body slouches aggressively, crossing his arms in disappointment. Santa simply shakes his head yes in response, walking back towards the tree placing his present neatly with the other his parents brought out while he was sleeping. Grabbing his large sack of gifts and with a fling over his hulking shoulder, Santa begins to walk towards the front door.

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“Wait! Aren’t you going to have your cookies and milk? My mom baked them just for you.” Andy implies sympathetically. Santa’s heavy feet stomp once more and stop as he turns to look at the tray of desserts presented before him, first chugging the glass of milk in giant gulps then grabbing only one cookie to take for his travels. Making his way back to the way in which he entered, Santa takes one final look at Andy and with a quick flick of the wrist, waves good-bye, quietly shutting the door behind him. 

Andy just sat there a few moments, pondering over the experience he had just had with Santa Claus. He didn’t feel the joy or magic that he thought would come with meeting Santa Claus. Instead, the emotions he felt afterwards were that of confusion but also, a hint of fear. Why did Santa Claus have to use the front door? Why didn’t he say anything? What happened to his face? Was that blood he was covered in? If so, was it Santa’s? If not, whose was it? Many more thoughts plagued Andy’s mind as he tossed and turned, struggling to fall back to sleep. 

As the sun rose the next morning, Andy awoke to the smell of brewing beans in the kitchen. His mother singing along to The Jackson 5’s cover of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town‘ as she pours herself and his father a cup of rich coffee with a splash of French vanilla creamer for taste. Andy’s father groggily walks into the living room, wiping the flecks of morning crust from his eyes. His hands already extended, waiting to accept the warm mug prepared for him by his wife. Sitting from the couch rubbing his barely waking eyes, Andy suddenly remembers the interaction he had mere hours ago. In a sudden burst, Andy throws his blankets to the ground springing from the sofa as he runs to the fireplace mantle to grab his phone, still hidden away.

“Well Merry Christmas to you too buddy.” Andy’s father yawns.

“Huh? Oh yeah, Merry Christmas” Andy replies as he fumbles his phone in excitement. 

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“What are you doing? Come here and sit down so we can start Christmas” his mother says as she pats on the spot he was just sitting. 

“Wait hold on! I have something to show you!” replied Andy, grabbing the golden bow present left from Santa with him. As he plops on the couch, he vigorously starts scrolling through his phone to make sure the video he had recorded throughout the night was saved. It was. 

“Oh, that’s a fancy looking present you got there. Honey, did you leave that under the tree?” ask Andy’s dad, looking over at his wife. 

“No, not me. That’s not one of your multiple re-wrapped achievements from last night?” she jokingly replies. 

Andy’s father glares back and says “Comedian. Ha ha. No, those are my prize-winning wrapping jobs.” pointing towards the batch of gifts just slightly to the right of his mothers, and “Santa’s” gifts. Looking at each other puzzled, Andy’s voice breaks the silence saying “it’s not from either of you! It’s a special gift from Santa! I met him last night while you were both sleeping.” As those words leave Andy’s mouth, their stomachs suddenly sink in fear. 

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“Wait…what do you mean you met Santa Claus last night sweetie?” Andy’s mom asks, perplexed. “Yeah, what do you mean buddy?” immediately followed by his father. 

Looking at his parents, the video of Santa Claus paused on his phone’s screen Andy replies “Well, while you and mom were both sleeping, Santa Claus actually came! I talked to him for a second and he gave me this present.” holding up his special gift. “Look I even recorded it on my phone! I’ve planned this all year and I FINALLY have proof he’s real!” Showing them the video on his screen in utter joy, an image of a man dressed in a dingy Santa Claus suit kneeling over a bag of God knows what is paused on the screen. Looking back at the mantle from where Andy had secretly placed his phone overnight, back to their excited child, they nervously grabbed the phone from Andy’s miniature hands. With a deep exhale, Andy’s parents look at each other once more before pressing play. To their horror they witness the intruder dressed as Santa Claus interacting with their curious son. Hovering over their living room table standing, staring.

Taking the opportunity of his parents’ frightening distraction, Andy begins ripping open his present, flinging torn bits of wrapping paper in the air with excitement. All that remained now was the bright golden bow holding the lid of his now black box closed. With a few quick tugs, the decadent bow manages to untie, draping itself down Andy’s hands. “This is it.” he thought, hands clutched in eager anticipation. Smiling with curious wonder, he hurls the lid of his present open only to have said smile quickly fade, the open box crashing to the floor. Alarmed by the sudden bang followed by the blood-curdling scream coming from their child, Andy’s parents drop the still playing phone in shock, gazing at the terrifying gift Santa Claus had left for him. Their cups of morning caffeine shattering across the floor accompanied by their own violent screams. 

As the festive melodies of The Jackson 5 are drowned out by the terrifying screams of Andy and his parents, the yuletide tunes cut and instead a drearier announcement plays through the speakers…

“This just in, police have located the body of a decapitated man near Fashion Place Mall just off highway 66. Authorities have yet to identify the body of the deceased but believe this to be a local Cain County resident and town’s own favorite yearly Santa Claus, Kristopher Kellum. Mr. Kellum’s wife reported her husband missing late hours in the evening last night and has yet to be found. The crime scene is currently being investigated for evidence and/or DNA to help identify the body of the deceased. Local police have yet to locate the victim’s missing head…”

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Utah transplant TT Hallows now resides in Portland OR haunting the streets of PNW for the past 5 years with his spunky feline companion Gizmo. Horror and writing are his passions, taking special interests in sloshy grindhouse slashers, thought-provoking slow burns, and fright-filled creature flicks; Carnage Candy reigns supreme! When not binging excessive amounts of gratuitous gore, you can find TT Hallows shopping the local thrift and witchcraft shops (oh yes, he's a witch), expertly dancing (or so believes) to New Wave/Dark synth melodies or escaping the monotony of "walking amongst the living" with serene oceanic views and forested hikes. TT Hallows is an up-and-coming horror reviewer/writer for HauntedMTL. Step with me into the void...if you dare.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Weigel

    December 20, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    Killer Christmas story. I imagine the murderer must have quite the collection this time of year… there are so many to choose from. 😉

  2. TT Hallows

    December 28, 2022 at 6:07 am

    Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun writing this one! ☺️ Definitely a story I can revisit and expand upon 🎅🏻😈 haha.

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Beware the Jabberwock, My Son

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We’ve reached episode five of The Boys. And after the last episode’s emotional bombshells, this one had some much-needed levity.

And then a whole bunch more emotional trauma.

The story

We begin this episode with Homelander and Ryan in a meeting regarding a new teenage show. But Ryan doesn’t want to be on a show. He wants to be an actual hero. He wants to do real good and help people. And Homelander, fresh from his therapeutic killing spree, is in a mood to support his son.

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Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

For now.

Meanwhile, The Boys are searching for a virus that can kill sups. The last time we saw this virus, it was in the hands of Neuman. They borrow Stan Edgar from jail and go to the lovely family farm upstate.

There, they discover that Neuman’s been testing temp V on farm animals. And it works as well on them as it does on hamsters. Soon the boys find themselves batting killer sheep, chickens and bulls. Hilarity and blood ensues.

What worked

The first thing we have to talk about is the superpowered animals. This was such a fantastic, hilarious situation. I especially loved the flying homicidal sheep. They were hilarious, unexpected, and incredibly gory. One just doesn’t expect to see a sheep covered in blood and guts. But it was delightful.

Karl Urban in The Boys.

The main pull of this episode, though, is the evolving relationship between Homelander and Ryan.

Homelander realizes that he doesn’t want Ryan to be brought up the same way he was. He wants his son to be happy.

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He isn’t trying to be a better person though, and I think that’s important to remember. He loves his son, and he wants his son to be happy. And if being an actual hero and actually helping people will make Ryan happy right now, then that’s what Homelander is going to do.

Except that, since he doesn’t care about people, he is really bad at being a good person. Which is what led to a director getting beaten to death by his assistant.

I’m not saying this beatdown wasn’t cathartic. I’m just saying that it was maybe not something a good person would endorse.

I honestly think this new desire to be an actual hero is going to make Homelander more dangerous. If such a thing is possible.

What didn’t work

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Of course, this episode wasn’t perfect. It brought to light a weakness that’s been irritating me this whole season. And that is the storyline with Hugh Senior.

What are we doing here?

While Hughie’s dad’s health issues are sad, and the sudden reintroduction of his mother is interesting, it has nothing to do with the rest of the season. Every other storyline blends and ties together. You can’t pull one string without all of them coming unraveled.

But not this story. So far, this storyline could be removed entirely and the whole rest of the season would remain pristine. All this storyline seems to have done is to have popped our main character out of the main storyline altogether.

Hughie’s absence is a deficit. I would have loved to see him freak out over the killer chickens. But I also would have liked to see him work with Neuman. I would have liked him to be there to defend Butcher. I would have liked to see him interacting with any other characters at all.

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At this point, no character is purely good or purely bad. And I think that’s important. I’m invested in the story of every single character. And with three episodes left in the season, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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The Boys, Wisdom of the Ages

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Episode four of The Boys was possibly the darkest episode of the series so far. And I am aware that this alone is an intimidating prospect.

It should be.

The story

Our story in this episode mainly consists of the single most dickish action I have ever seen anyone perform. Sage and Firecracker set up a four-hour show outside Starlight House, to talk about how horrible of a person Annie is.

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Four hours.

Valorie Curry and Susan Heyward in The Boys.

Annie gets everyone out of the building safely but then decides to watch the entire Anti-Annie show. And it is horrific.

The real horror show of this episode, though, is Homelander’s little adventure. After a fight with Ryan, he’s decided to visit his childhood home. Or, at least the place in which he grew up. Because he was raised more like a science experiment than a child.

I don’t think we’ve seen so far exactly what Homelander went through. The horrors he faced as a small child. Things no one should ever have to experience.

Things that the rest of his world will now have to pay for.

What worked

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If you’re paying attention to politics, this episode got way too real. The absolute hypocrisy of our current political situation was on display with superpowers. I especially liked (and by that I mean was enraged by) Firecracker saying that accidentally blinding someone at age thirteen was worse than being an adult and assaulting a minor. Those two things are not the same, and one of them is obviously worse.

Another thing that I appreciated in this episode was the new, and horrific, information we got about Homelander’s childhood.

Do I maybe feel bad for Homelander now? After seeing the dismal and dark little world he was raised in, yeah, I do. That is a monstrous way to treat a child. It’s no wonder he ended up how he is. Even the milk fetish makes more sense. And I am not any more cajoled by the fact that these people were just doing their jobs than Homelander was. That has never been an honest or adequate justification.

This, of course, doesn’t justify the horrors he’s inflicted. It just makes it easier to see how he got to where he is.

Antony Starr in The Boys.

The best fiction inspires strong emotions. It makes us feel things for people who are not real and feel passionate about events that did not happen. It does this by showing us glimmers of real people and real events within these bags of bones and false narratives. And it is because of this that The Boys is succeeding. It’s taking very real moments we are all living through, and embedding them into a fictional narrative. And that’s always going to be more impactful than just burning someone alive.

What didn’t work

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I only had one complaint about this episode. But it did bother me.

When Firecracker’s show starts, Annie makes a point of getting all the kids out of Starlight House to safety. That’s good. But then she sits down with her friends to watch the show.

Why would you watch a four-hour-long live show about why you are a terrible person?

I get asking someone else to watch it and take notes, because in a position like that you need to know what the opposition is saying about you. But for Annie to just watch that unfiltered was asking for trouble. And it’s exactly the sort of trouble that Annie ended up in.

In conclusion, this episode was almost too real. It had my blood boiling. It had me yelling at the TV. And that’s exactly what I want a good story to do.

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We’re halfway through the season now, and I think we’d all better buckle up for what’s coming.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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House of Dragon: S2E3 – Family Feud for Dummies

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In this great episode, we see something we have yet to see in any of the GoT/HoD shows–a dysfunctional family. Wait. I meant, SSDD.

We start out with two people fighting. Why? Why not. I guess they have a blood feud for ages. I mean AGGGGGESSSSSSS. So, of course, we don’t know anything about them what-so-fuck-ever.

Basically, the scene is two girls slapping each other and then one gets an arrow to the knee. The end.

Dead hookers, Kings Hand, and a War Plan

Next up, we have two dead twins, but enough about my sex life. In the show, there are two dead uhhh twins (note to self: deeper holes for twins). Alas poor ermrmm….let’s call them the Ging Twins. We hardly knew. ye.

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Ohhhhh I love this part where a knight that’s fucking the queen and got Poor Sir Ging killed is being late to his first day of class. Naughty Naughty. The rest of the scene is like ‘oh new peeps in white, something something, King is Big Warrior!’. So, this is what it would be like if Joffrey got laid? Hmmmmm….

Daemon arrives at Harrenhal–buyers remorse incoming

Daemon apparently wanted to take over something so he took over a shit hole. It’s almost suspenseful. Almost. I think it would be better to have drug the scene out more to give a sense of how Daemon was thinking about taking this big stronghold but slowly finding out it’s just a ghetto of shit.

For all the grief I give HoD for rehashing old tropes/plots from GoT, this is the one connection that makes sense so far. I like the exploration of a place we hear about in GoT but never got to see much into it. The connection is a way of doing exposition for a series we cared about. This is the first time it really feels like a prequel and not just a stand alone ‘shit pile’ they put the skin of GoT on.

We also get to see something of a character development for Daemon. This is something I really. hope others get a chance to get–characters. Maybe this is just the actor putting everything on his timey-wimey shoulders. Maybe that’s what the real turn for the character is–Matt Smith just going ‘fuck it’ and hitting for the fences.

Rhaenyra’s Diplomatic Mission, Some Politics, and Ser Cole Gets Jiggy Wit It

So like even though you fucked my dad and like made sure I wasn’t queen and then like started a war and like your bastards killed my son and like, you know, maybe we can be friends and end this war?

I heard this part of the scene was ad-lib. The writers had just this for direction: Think of the stupidest thing you can think of for your character to say and just go with it! Oh, and if you can tie in a previous episode of a better show into it–even better!

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While that happens, political people are like ‘lets use a dragon. The show is called house of dragon, not house of weird random call backs to the future happenings of GoT’. Speaking of GoT, remember when the small council meetings were interesting? Like you wanted to know the twists and turns of it? You know why those were better? Because you gave a shit about the characters who made up the council. Even when the Queen remakes her council after her dad’s death, we still cared. We didn’t know them as well, but we cared because we knew the people they replaced were better for the job. So we had an interest in ‘how doth they fucketh this up’.

Here is more like…well, put it this way. Take pictures of the people on both councils. Then cut them into single head shots. Now, shuffle. Can you name the person? Hell, can you even name which side that person is on? That’s my point.

Oh and Cole goes off with the queen’s brother to attack something. A dragon happens. They go awwwhwhwhwhwhwhw!! Then run away like little girls.

Change your whores more than you change your undies

So pirate eye blondie is caught by king blondie using the same whore as he did before. Guess this is what rich kids count as shame.

Oh and surprise to nobody–the Queen admits that maybe Rhaenyra should have been ruler, but shit happens so it’s like too far gone stop now. Let’s have everyone kill each other and that way the gods will decide who the king really meant to give the throne to when he said, ‘I want my daughter Rhaenyra to be ruler’.

Final Comments and rating

It’s starting to pick up, but it seems that every time that it does pick up the writers go ‘fuck it’ and swerve directly into the ditch.

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I don’t think the lack of action is a problem in this series. I think taking things slower in places and cutting down the cast to a manageable number (or at least give them a different look/name type so we can tell them apart) might be the thing needed to bring this show into a better footing. Will it ever be GoT? No. Sadly, I think it’s trying so hard to connect to GoT plots that it waters itself down. Instead of giving us a fascinating look at an older time, we get a constant reminder of just how much we miss GoT. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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