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Amazon gets its Game of Thrones on with Britanniaand it works

Charmaine Blake



If you’re desperately seeking a Game of Thrones fix while enduring the long wait for the HBO fantasy epic’s 2019 return, you could do a lot worse than Britannia. The new historical drama from Amazon Studios and Sky has much in common with the world of Westeros, even though it’s set in our own world, tracing the conflicts between the native Celts and the invading Romans in 43 AD. But while Britannia is clearly inspired by Game of Thrones—and probably wouldn’t exist without that show’s success—Britannia still feels very much like its own beast. A beast filled with treachery, terrifying druids, and a whole mess of hallucinogens.

Britannia plants its flag early on, and that flag has “freak” emblazoned boldly across it. Within the first few minutes of Britannia, you’ll see the British Office’s Mackenzie Crook appear as the most unsettling druid you’d ever care to meet, watch a man dive off a cliff and into a nightmare dreamscape fueled by every psychotropic plant he could find, and then discover that this period drama has chosen as its theme song the trippy 1968 Donovan joint “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” And, for some inexplicable reason, it works.

Prime Video/YouTube

The show doesn’t maintain quite that level of WTF, setting into the more familiar “hyperviolent historical/fantasy drama” beats established by shows like Game of Thrones and Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand. But even when the sea of swords, trees, and peasants starts to look overly familiar, Britannia still finds moments to embrace its eccentricity. Pretty much everything Varen (Crook) and his druids do on-screen is either gruesome or disquieting—and sometimes both. The show’s freak flag is best personified, however, by Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Divis, an outcast druid who is possibly insane, most definitely an asshole, and one of my favorite new TV characters.

Divis snakes along underneath the larger storylines of warring factions and byzantine treachery, trying his best to save his land but never quite sure what he’s doing. Divis is Merlin if Merlin hadn’t bathed in several years and was an unapologetic dick. Actually, that’s not fair—“unapologetic” implies the person realizes they’ve done something wrong, but doesn’t feel bad about it. After Divis promises to guide a traumatized orphan “as far as the river,” he then instead drops her 10 miles away from the river, because the rest of the journey is out of his way and full of wolves. If you’d suggested to Divis that this was rude bordering on criminal, he likely wouldn’t understand what the hell you were talking about. Like he tells the girl at one point, in an ill-conceived attempt at comfort, “This isn’t about you. It’s about me.”

The rest of the Britannia cast is a talented and solid mix, including some familiar faces such as the aforementioned Crook and The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey as General Aulus Plautius, the commander of the invading Roman legions. As Plautius, Morrissey is in familiar form as the charismatic leader who, as one character describes, is most talented at getting inside his opponents’ heads and soon having their “right arm fighting their left.” Most of the arc of Britannia sees him trying to do just that, with Plautius gaming the various warring factions of Celts toward whatever end best suits his needs at that moment. Plautius is never as well realized a character as Morrissey’s turn as the Governor on The Walking Dead—say what you will about the show, Morrissey’s performance was excellent—but he’s in familiar territory playing an utter bastard, so this is basically a paid vacation for the guy.

Prime Video/YouTube

However, some of the show’s strongest characters are Britannia’s women. Kelly Reilly shines as Kerra, the daughter of a Celtic king who will do whatever she must to protect her people, even if that means going against the will of her father. And Eleanor Worthington Cox is marvelous as Cait, a young woman whose ceremonial transition into adulthood becomes all too literal when a Roman army swarms over her Solstice ceremony, robbing her of her family and the only life she’s ever known in a rush of flame and blood. If we’re continuing the Game of Thrones comparisons here, Cait is definitely this show’s Aria, but she’s still very much her own character, brutalized but unbroken.

All nine episodes of Britannia are streaming on Amazon Prime Instant Video, and you’ll have too much fun to stop.

Still not sure what to watch on Amazon? Here are the best Amazon originals, the best documentaries on Amazon Prime, what’s new on Amazon, the best movies you can watch in stunning 4K Ultra HD, and the sexiest movies you can stream right now.  

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‘Outlanders’ Season 5 confirmed by executive producer



Image: starz

Everyone’s favorite show that isn’t Game of Thrones is coming back for a fifth season.

In lieu of an official announcement from Starz, Outlander executive producer Ronald D. Moore said Sunday that the show will be returning for a fifth season, Entertainment Weekly reported. Moore noted that there are still “usual negotiations and conversations” about the future of the show, but he seemed completely confident in confirming Season 5.

“We are certainly going to do it,” Moore said at the For Your Consideration: Outlander panel. “I have no doubt we are doing a Season 5.”

The pseudo-announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise considering the show’s success, critical acclaim, and its source material. The series is based on the best-selling novels of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, and each season roughly adapts one book in the series.

Outlanders Season 3 finished in December last year and Season 4, which is still in production, is expected to kick off this fall. Season 5 likely won’t air until 2019 or even 2020.

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Everything we know about Season 2 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’



And you thought it couldn’t get any darker…

Image: Hulu

This story contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1. To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our highlights recap.

There’s just about one guarantee for the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale: No one is safe.

The cast and executive producers of Hulu’s hit show made that abundantly clear during the panel at PaleyFest on Sunday, March 18. They revealed some tantalizing details about where the characters are going when we return to Gilead on April 25.

“Anyone could die,” said executive producer Warren Littlefield. But, like the show’s world, it isn’t just all darkness. Showrunner Bruce Miller also revealed that at least one person will escape Gilead’s clutches, and well, we’re certainly pulling for June over Serena.

The end of Season 1 left off on an ambiguous note (to say the least), with many of characters left to hang in a freefall of uncertainty. So where will they be in Season 2?


Thankfully, Alexis Bledel will return as Emily, despite the horrors she faced. EW revealed that Season 2 Emily even gets her own flashback scenes to pre-Gilead life with her wife, played by guest star Clea Duvall.

But in the here and now, Emily finds herself stuck in the most desolate of places.

Only hinted at in both the book and Season 1, the colonies are like Gilead’s concentration camps: a radioactive wasteland where the “unwomen” are sent to work until they die. Bledel mentioned it as a place where one’s physical health immediately deteriorates. Miller said the colonies are, “an extrapolation of the way [Gilead] thinks about women — as disposable.”



Perhaps the most tragic yet oddly uplifting character of all, the handmaids’ refusal to stone her does not save Janine from punishment. She’s sent to the Colonies for endangering her child, but actress Madeline Brewer said it isn’t all bad. “She’s just grateful that’s she’s alive, after so many brushes with death.”

Aunt Lydia

For Aunt Lydia, Offred’s pregnancy is the victory she’s been working toward. But as we’ve seen, even a happy and determined Aunt Lydia is a terrifying Aunt Lydia. In Season 2, Miller said we’ll see her “sense of duty to make sure Offred’s baby is healthy and comes into a loving household — even if it kills her and most of the people around her.”


While Moira’s escape to Canada might be the best ending a handmaid can hope for, Samira Wiley said there’s no escaping the trauma left behind. In Little America (Toronto’s safe haven for Gilead refugees) her and Luke deepen their relationship through a common love for June.

Wiley also hinted that we’d see Moira’s life not only before Gilead, but outside of June. In Season 1, she mentions the love of her life, Odette — who was reclassified as an “unwoman.” Will Moira get  another reunion? Or is Odette with Janine and Emily now in the Colonies?  


O-T Fagbenle echoed Wiley’s sentiments, saying that they both have PTSD to deal with. But also, Season 2 explores the parts of Luke and June’s relationship that were less than rosey. Don’t forget: He left his first wife to marry her. So we’ll see the more “contentious” parts of their coupling.


Actor Max Minghella gave some assurance to audiences that the shift we see in his character after learning about June’s baby is genuine. “His primal feelings for her have not shifted for her,” he said. “Nick’s constantly making decisions that negate his self-preservation [for her.]”

We’ve never seen handmaid’s dressed in black before

Image: hulu

The Waterfords

“Serena’s pissed,” said Yvonne Strahovski. And, boy, we know how dangerous that can get.

When it comes to Commander Waterford, “They’ve come to an incredibly uneasy peace,” said Miller. “[The loss of June] hollowed out their marriage… but I don’t know if you’d see that from the outside. They seem like a united front [against June.]”


The poor Martha left to deal with the repercussions in the Waterford household after June’s departure, “is in the most perilous state she’s ever been in,” said actress Amanda Brugel.


For obvious reasons, Season 2 will focus on the theme of motherhood. But we’ll get a full scope of this through Offred/June’s character. In flashback scenes, we’ll see one of the most interesting relationships from the book’s that has yet to be explored in the show: June’s own mother. 

Relating it back to the conversations about #MeToo — and the shift between second and third wave feminism — producer Warren Littlefield suggested that June’s relationship to her mom will exemplify that.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ heads to Wakanda: Chadwick Boseman is set for April 7



Image: Dia Dipasupil/Jamie McCarthy; Getty Images

Wakanda’s very own Black Panther is headed to Studio 8H. 

On April 7, Chadwick Boseman will take on the hosting duties for Saturday Night Live with none other than the “Bodak Yellow” queen Cardi B as a musical guest. The announcement was made during an episode guest hosted by Bill Hader this weekend. 

While Boseman and Cardi haven’t appeared on the show before, both have been parodied by cast member Chris Redd and former guest host Tiffany Haddish, respectively. 

“Who finna not go to the club to watch Bardi on tv?!,” Cardi wrote on Instagram following announcement. By the looks of it, pretty much everyone: the news elicited enthusiastic reactions from folks online who can’t wait to see what SNL cooks up for Wakanda (and Bronx) royalty.