Sinbad s01e02: Queen of the Water-Thieves and s01e03: House of Games

So first off, we have the lovely Sophie Okonedo as a Cannibal Queen who wants to finally rustle up some meat for her tribe to eat in Queen of the Water-Thieves. Needless to say, this doesn’t exactly cover new ground in the “painted savages” genre- it’s your typical man outsmarts dangerous and exotic tribe by finding one weakness of Queen story, which has probably been told a bit by old dead white dudes. It’s the ridiculousness of the little scenes that totally make this episode actually kind of watchable.

HBIC indeed.

Basically, after we get through Sinbad being a rapscallion with the ladies, lots of cannibal posturing and your typical “well how do we get out of this one” scene in some cages, the entire thing culminates in Anwar and Rina in a fight to the death, but with Rina flailing weaksauce haymakers at Anwar and Anwar just taking it. Oh, and this entire time, Gunnar’s dressed up like a lady cannibal with the largest battle bra in the show just stuck right on. It’s prime comedy.

Sinbad also just has this fantastic scene with a dragon gryphon beast thing that’s guarding the one exit to the Cannibal Queen’s lair: he’s all “you’ve had your time to experience freedom, but I haven’t, therefore you should help me escape” to this beast thing that’s been left tied up in a cavern, presumably without water. The gonads on this man. Surprisingly enough, the beast thing actually lets him go, and they have this lovely tit-for-tat tacit agreement that partially consists of Sinbad being carried off the island in the talons of a beast thing claw puppet.

And throughout the entire thing, Sophie Okonedo just gleefully chews the scenery. The whole cat and mouse thing with her and Sinbad is definitely entertaining with the over the top acting. It’s really the only way to play a role like this.

Questions raised:

  • Is Rina actually wearing some AllSaints knitwear? I swear I’ve seen that sweater before.
  • Are we ever going to see a civilized band of cannibals?
  • How does this tribe have the tech to create a bamboo spear with retractable blade?
  • Could Sinbad just go wade in the water knee-deep to recharge the curse? Couldn’t he just get an inflatable mattress and sleep out there with it tethered, then come back to dry land in the morning?
  • When will people learn to not taunt the cannibals?

Swiftly moving on, House of Games saw Sinbad and Friends discover the true meaning of friendship when Anwar lost the entire ship in a bet. Obviously this would cause Sinbad problems since he’s technically not supposed to be on dry land much.

As with many stories, this one starts with Sinbad getting into a boat drag race with the most dapper dude on the planet, we’re talking double breasted gold Arabian suit levels of dapper. Sinbad wins, which comes at a price as they end up having to bet for supplies against said guy which ends in losing the boat. Just their luck though, the dapper merchant is actually headed off to a place where they might be able to win back the boat.

This is everything I don’t understand about this show’s costume design.

Thus begins the real centerpiece of this particular episode, when we get into the titular House of Games, a casino of nightmare orientalism run by the Zoolander Twins and a magical eyeless guy straight out of Pan’s Labyrinth. Incidentally, they find Rina there all dressed up like a Final Fantasy character and being all “who is this Rina you speak of, I know no Rina” after she ran off with all their valuables earlier. This would be the perfect time to dump a liability, but instead Team Sinbad result to hilariously passive aggressive hinting that maybe they’re not entirely happy with having their stuff absconded with.

It’s all alright though, because Sinbad gets the boat back in the end, but not without dropping himself right into the middle of a fiendish plot. Yes, the Twins have bored of simple card games and are now pitting patrons in fights to the death! The first one’s in a huge moving hamster ball cage, so you probably get the idea it’s not entirely serious. Second one has Sinbad in a rotating room where he has to find and unlock his friends from behind changing closed doors. Or he can choose to run back to the boat to avoid getting strangled by his curse with the dawn. He decides to go after his friends though, and Rina ends up coming to her senses and helping him.

Oh that CGI, particularly when Sinbad unlocks Gunnar from his armored prison, or when he pulls Nala out of the floor with a puzzle. Oh that CGI.

Questions raised:

  • What is Derek Zoolander plus clone doing in a nightmare orientalist casino?
  • Cheongsams? Is this supposed to be on a timewarp Silk Road route or something?
  • Will the lesson of True Friendship stick for Rina?
  • Does Anwar want to subconsciously kill Sinbad? He spent an awful long time on land explaining the curse while Sinbad was choking on his necklace.

Have to say though, the B plot throughout these two episodes is highly boring. We have people from back in Sinbad’s hometown plotting against him, including an insane witch that actually hisses at people occasionally. It’s just not very exciting compared to the main stuff going on, way too slow moving and not high enough stakes. Maybe when they get to be more of a threat this plot thread’ll be more exciting, but I’m not holding my breath for it.

Also, the Cook is totally turning into a dark horse of awesome in this series. In Queen of the Water-Thieves we saw him putting a bunch of cannibals to sleep via soup, and House of Games had him hitting on the hot cook from the Merchant’s vessel with the sexy power of spices. Will he take out a pirate with a saucepan next? Please.

About Jac Thurmond 25 Articles
Co-founder of The Spoilist. Resident horror aficionado. Also reviewing science fiction, animation, and arthouse films. You can find me on Twitter.

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