Newsday's guest critic Bonifacio Diaz of Old Westbury and his...

Newsday's guest critic Bonifacio Diaz of Old Westbury and his four-legged best friend, Arya. Credit: Michelle Belio

Everyone’s a critic.

Or so the old saying goes.

Indeed, we often hear from our readers telling us that they disagreed vehemently with what our critics said — remarks along the lines of “How could you people like that (movie, TV show, Broadway show, concert)? We saw the same thing and we hated that (movie, TV show, Broadway show, concert).”

And vice-versa.

So we thought it would be an interesting experiment if our four critics — Rafer Guzman (movies), Glenn Gamboa (music), Barbara Schuler (Broadway) and Verne Gay (TV) — could all take a guest (someone who was not a professional critic, but wasn’t shy about expressing their opinions) with a passion for the same type of entertainment to attend an event with them, in effect becoming critics themselves.

After the event the two would compare notes and see just how much they agreed or disagreed on what they had just seen.


Bonifacio Diaz of Old Westbury is a 27-year-old entrepreneur and someone who just happens to be wiser about “Game of Thrones” than Newsday's regular TV critic. Therefore, it is with a degree of humility and gratitude that I hand this discussion over to Bono.

We spoke Monday, with the memory of the April 21 episode, “A Knight of Seven Kingdoms,” still fresh, and in one or two instances, still raw. The end is near, with four episodes to go, while “Knight” offered both a touch of closure and a wallop of forward spin.

But before we get to all that, more about Bono: He lives with girlfriend, Michelle Belio, who is a professional dog trainer, and with their dog, Arya. He has two gigs — the first as a fulfillment-by-Amazon seller specializing in hobbyist merchandise, specifically model kits and action figure collectibles, and his 9-5 job is at Lynbrook-based Flagship One, which supplies computer modules for car engines and other parts.

Verne Gay: So, “A Knight of Seven Kingdoms”thumbs up or thumbs down? My own initial reaction was, can we just get on with the battle of all battles already?!

Bono: I read somewhere that Sunday's episode is supposed to have four minutes of dialogue and over an hour of battle scenes. So while I understand that a lot of people are like "c'mon!," I also understand that we'll get all we can handle. So I'm fine with it. Let them play the waiting game. Let 'em build up the anxiety and suspense. I thought it was great and my heart was fluttering the entire episode.

Let's talk Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who seemed to me to be the big revealor two of them really. First by accepting that epic Jaime Lannister apology for pushing him out the tower window; and second, that the Night King is coming for him.

Here's my thought about the plan to set up Bran as bait for the Night King — that Arya takes Bran's face somehow. [Recall Arya's face transitions in season 7, when she wrought her revenge on Walder Frey]. Is this her plan? Does she even yet know this about Bran? And if she does, she already has a particularly good weapon that Gendry (Joe Dempsie) made for her on Sunday.

Brilliant, Arya as Bran. What a nice surprise for our friend, Mr. Night King.

Yeah, or there are other options, like the Night King advances, and [the forces at Winterfell] retreat to the Iron Islands, and he goes south to King's Landing and there's another giant brawl there with Cersei's (Lena Headey) forces.

I'm feeling more and more like Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) are headed for a post-battle showdown, as that crucial scene seemed to indicate. Can these two ever get along?

People from the north [like the Starks] are basically like wildlings, and the only reason they bent their knee in the first place was because Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was best friends with Robert Baratheon … So yes, I get that vibe too. Also, Sansa doesn't even know yet that [her half brother] Jon (Kit Harington) is Aegon Targaryen!

Speaking of which, Dany seemed to take the news poorly about Jon as Aegon. I couldn't be certain whether she was more distraught that he was now her nephew or that he is now the once-and-future king, unseating her.

I can see why she's distraught and Jon is fighting his own demons; plus, he's never asked for any of this.

I was left with a sense of sadness during those scenes in front of the fireplace, with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) and Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie)and that maybe, just maybe, we were seeing these beloved characters together for the last time.

It made me really sad too because Tormund Giantsbane and Brienne are my favorite characters. I love Tormund — the mother's milk? I was laughing hysterically. … I also feel like Jaime has found peace, and closure, and that they have all finally gotten to know each other as adults. To use that line — there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole — all of them have been through so much and got to know their true allies on the battlefield, and now finally really know each other.

Thoughts on the scene when Jaime knighted Brienne?

It was amazing. Everyone was giddy and joking, and then Brienne looks over at Podrick and he nods his head, and that was the seal of approval she needed. That's when everyone got serious. That moment was really beautiful.

Of course we have to talk about Arya and Gendry and their romantic liaison. I wonder if this means that they will one day rule the seven kingdoms?

I was so happy when it happened. She is probably closest to Gendry than anyone in Westeros [and] I like the idea of Arya being at the head of the table. That would be cool. She symbolizes everything a woman can and should be, and female empowerment in this episode was a big theme. These two work together so well so I'm excited to see what's going to happen.

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