TV Review – Game of Thrones

Arya reveals her identity to Gendry on the road north while Gold Cloaks pursue the party. Tyrion is far from happy with Cersei after the recent bloody actions in the capital. One of Dany’s scouts returns with bad news. Theon Greyjoy finally returns home to his father Balon after years as a Stark ward and hostage. Stannis’ right hand man, Davos, enlists a pirate with a fleet of ships to join Stannis’ cause.

Well things are beginning to heat up, now that we’ve caught up with almost all the season one characters, and been introduced to a few new ones.

One of the problems I’ve started to develop with Game of Thrones is the constant breakneck pace. Sometimes I wish that the vast, lavish expanse of the world, rendered so perfectly [and one of the drawcards of the show] just didn’t cost so much. If it was cheaper, there could be more episodes per season, and a little time to reflect, catch a breath, or get into a closer study of a particular character or situation. Imagine a bottle episode with Tyrion and… well anyone else, without having to jump to ten thousand other stories! Watch this space for fan-fic based on that.

Really though, this is an unrealistic expectation for a show of this grand scale, and the way the books [I gather] are rendered on-screen is incredibly concise and well orchestrated.

In the first episode, we saw almost nothing of Arya and Gendry, but in this episode we open with them. As expected, Arya’s position in this motley group of Wall-bound bastards [of all sorts] is somewhat dangerous, mitigated and exacerbated simultaneously by her defiant nature. Her feisty exchanges with caged man-beasts are a delight to behold, and that quiet creep in the cage is obviously one to watch.

Later, Arya and Gendry have a delightful exchange, in which Gendry lets slip that he knows Arya’s not a dude. (She never writes her name in the snow with the other boys!) The turn-around that happens when he finds out she’s of noble blood is hilarious, frustrating and rather adorable. These two have such a natural onscreen chemistry [of any sort] that I can’t wait for the rest of their story to unfold. I hope it ends with them opening an armoury/sword-fighting school. Spin-off alert!

Over to Theon Greyjoy, busily behaving like the douche he is – on a ship about to harbour in the Iron Islands. Theon is one of my favourite minor characters, for three reasons; his backstory and subsequent motivation is fascinating, his boorish lad behaviour is really amusing, and he’s quite alright to look at. In this episode, his dickish-ness knows no bounds, deflowering and using some poor cross-eyed ship girl, and then feeling up the next boobs that he comes across. He’s all set to be the prodigal son returned home, and his fall is from very high to very low is one of the episode’s best scenes. His father is not happy to see him return, and is in fact a twisted, brutal, revenge filled scary guy, who has replaced Theon the Great Hope, with his sister. Whose boobs Theon felt up. Ewww.

+1 to Game of Thrones incest score. Theon’s father, Balon, actually reminds me somewhat of Lord of the Rings‘ Theoden, with bits of Wormtongue mixed in for nasty measure. Theon’s loyalties are now equally torn, between the Iron Islands of his birthright (and current location) and the more reasonable but far further away King of the North, his ‘brother’, sworn King. I can’t possibly figure out what Theon will do next, but it’s sure to be something ill-advised.

Littlefinger and Ros have a small segment of this episode, more a character study, or a reminder of character, than anything else. Ros is surprisingly soft-hearted, a revelation at this point, but the true thrill of this scene is our reminder that Littlefinger is still a cold self-serving businessman. His silken threats to Ros were lifted up to the creepiest heights by Aiden Gillen’s reading. Bless him.

Daenerys gets only a scene in this episode, and it’s a sad one. The rider she sent out emotionally in episode one, comes back as a head in a saddlebag. I’m rather devastated – Rakaro was a great minor character, and things have got just that much worse for Daenerys.

Beyond the Wall, intrigue is growing. Craster’s gross way of life is being quietly examined by Jon Snow and Sam. Where do the boy babies keep going? There are not really any surprises in this storyline, with everyone playing exactly according to their character. The White Walker [surprise, that’s where the babies are going] glimpses and sound effects were nice though. White Walkers, I missed you.

In King’s Landing things are changing. Very slowly. Tyrion gets a great scene when kicking out the Captain of the King’s Guard, and putting his own man in charge. He’s on sharp-tongued form here (“I’m not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I’m denying its existence” ) but his bluster with Varys seems ill-advised, and a little out of character at this point. Tyrion is great at being in-your-face controversial with people, but he also understands the necessity of diplomacy; I find it strange that he has mis-read Varys, and feels safe in challenging him.

Over to Stannis and Melisandre; currently, in my opinion, the least interesting storyline in the show. The introduction of a witch and a cult is salacious and interesting as a concept, however nothing that has happened between those two has been at all surprising so far. I look forward to the twist – there’s got to be one. Did she build up an immunity to poison in Australia (“there was poison in BOTH the cups!”) or is she really a sinister, manipulative weeyatch? The new pirate character on the other hand is fabulous, and for some reason reminds me of Arya’s swordmaster in season one, although that might just be the accent. It’s good to see another character who is politically neutral and self-serving. Most of the characters we have grown to understand now have allegiances; but the excitement in this show, as ever, lies in unpredictability.

Things I liked:
The unbroken, tense scenes between Theon and his father, and Littlefinger and Ros

The Pirate – “I’m not going to rape her, I’m going to fuck her!”  Yeowch.

Things I didn’t like:
Stannis and Melisandre’s predictable melodrama, complete with sex scene which was like, symbolic, geddit?

Joffrey. No one likes Joffrey.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Enjoyable)

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