Game of Thrones
Things were a little bit calmer this week, as King’s Landing dealt with the fallout from Joffrey’s death, the Night’s Watch finally understood the danger they’re in, and Arya’s faith in humanity was shattered by Sandor (yes, I was surprised she still had any as well). If only she could have compared notes with Sansa, who after three traumatic seasons, was finally able to escape King’s Landing only to find herself in the dubious custody of Lord Littlefinger of the wandering accent.
Voice issues apart, it was great to see the return of the arch-manipulator, although were I Sansa I’d be very worried indeed ? she’s literally caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Tywin lives for this stuff, and actor Charles Dance crackles while wielding fresh power over both his children and the kingdom. Cersei can be horrendous, but I felt for her as Tywin snatched Tommen away. By doing so, Tywin nullified Cersei and she knows it. Joffrey was Cersei’s favorite, her obsession. Her influence over King Joffrey won’t extend to King Tommen. And so Cersei is left alone to mourn her dead son, because one else will. Not even Jaime.
Even after Cersei reminds him that Joffrey was their son. Unfortunately, Jamie’s obsession with Cersei did not extend to Joffrey, who was just a byproduct of pleasure. With that wedge between him and his sister now lifeless on a slab, Jaime makes a move. Cersei resists, but Jaime won’t stand for it and rapes her next to their son’s corpse.
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Watch Game of Thrones – The Lion and the Rose Online
There are times when I feel like a broken record on the subject of “Game of Thrones” and my wish that Benioff and Weiss didn’t have quite so much story to deal with, or at least that they could re-structure the show in a way that would allow for longer stints in each destination, if not for periodic single-location episodes like “Blackwater.” But then we get an episode like “The Lion and the Rose,” in which the first half is structured like your typical “Game of Thrones” episode, while the second half is essentially one long scene at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, and I’m reminded all over again of the power of concentrated storytelling over the diffuse kind that Benioff, Weiss and company (including George R.R. Martin, who wrote this script) usually have to practice.
In comparison to someone like Robb Stark, who was built up as a boring but likeable guy, an underdog to root for because of what happened to his father Ned, Joffrey is nothing more than a pissant. He’s a contemptible little cockroach who does nothing but snipe at those around him out of sheer boredom and in the eyes of most viewers deserved a far more excruciating death. But there’s a sinister poetry to his death at a wedding, after all immediate threats have been removed. This is the chaos of Westeros, where siege threats can be thwarted by magical fire, White Walkers roam the frozen North, and the most dangerous place for a King seems to be a royal wedding.
Yes, that means that characters who traditionally would end up the conquering heroes are cut down before following through on that classical arc. But it also means that the evildoers, sinister little cretins who do nothing but destroy all hope for happiness in the world, can die early and without warning as well.
Jaime is upset that he can’t protect the King — he can hold his sword, but he can’t properly wield it. He needs an instructor who can keep quiet. Luckily, Tyrion knows just the person.
You’re wrong Varys – I wept for Shae this episode. Yes, she has frequently annoyed me and I’m not always convinced by Sibel Kekilli’s performance but the brief scene between her and Tyrion broke my heart. Is Bronn telling the truth about getting her out of King’s Landing? I do hope so but were I Tyrion I might begin to worry about just how many secrets Bronn knows, given Jaime’s (lack of) fighting ability when it comes to Shae’s whereabouts. As Varys would tell you, it doesn’t pay to trust anyone too much in King’s Landing.
Bran and his bunch—Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick)—are on the road in the North, heading to… Castle Black? Beyond the Wall? This is what you get for following a psychic tween! Stuck wandering the snowy woods for a season and a half! Bran is warging himself into his direwolf Summer like crazy, enjoying the fresh deer meat he’s getting into, which is a lot better than the no meat they have. Jojen and Meera warn him against warging too much, as he’ll forget his whole life (Bran is probably like, yes, that’s the idea, my life sucks).
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After using his warg powers to run around inside the skin of his direwolf, Summer, Bran is warned by Jojen and Meera Reed that he needs to cut down on the length of time he spends in another creature so he doesn’t lose his human self, and so, as Meera puts it, they don’t “lose everything.” Just then, Bran sees a direwolf by a godswood tree and he asks Hodor to bring him to the tree. As he touches the face on the tree Bran sees visions – a three-eyed raven, his father Ned Stark in a cell at King’s Landing, snow in the Iron Throne room, a figure beyond the wall, and dragon shadows over King’s Landing. A voice tells Bran, “Look for me, beneath the tree.” “I know where we have to go,” Bran says when he snaps out of it.
Over in Stannis-land, things could be going better. The brooding Baratheon brother still has eyes for the throne (which will grow even wider when he discovers Joffrey’s fate, I assume), but he barely has enough food to feed his family. All he can do to pass the time and keep the faith is burn “heretics” at the stake, which one can only imagine is a bitch for morale. Though it does seem a staunch “Lord of Light” devotion is growing out of everyone’s fear. One (slightly) redeeming quality that Stannis still possesses is that he doesn’t outright loathe his daughter like Selyse does. He does however send Melisandre (who must be having an awkward old time these days) down to Shireen’s dank, prison-y quarters to convert her to their new religion. All in all, Stannis is running to a stand still.
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The name of the finale episode Valar Morghulis is a common greeting in Braavos, meaning all men must die in High Valyrian. The customary response is Valar Dohaeris — all men must serve. Stand by as we live blog the final episode of season 2 with all the exciting action!
It’s a good thing HBO guaranteed Game of Thrones a third and a fourth season for the A Storm of Swords adaptation. The book is gigantic. Hell, I wondered how Benioff and Weiss would handle adapting a fairly large A Clash of Kings. For the most part, the writing duo did a terrific job in their adaptation, though the book-reader will always scrutinize the most minor parts of the adaptation and contrast changes made to the book and all that. As a whole though, Games of Thrones season two is a success.
Tonight’s finale did a great job of setting the stage for a sure to be dynamic season three, without relying on cheap cliffhangers or sex and death just for the sake of sex and death. We know where most of our characters will be headed when the action resumes, and in Thrones’ case, that’s even better than wondering what the hell happened to so-and-so when he got into that fight with what’s-his-face. In other words, the episode did a great job of wrapping up the season’s plethora of plot lines, while simultaneously opening up newer, deadlier paths to explore. God, I’m excited. Let’s break it down by character so we don’t get a headache.
“Valar Morghulis” had more momentum than most of this season’s episodes, though it would be hard to top last week’s stunner “Blackwater.” Some choice moments: Brienne’s “two quick deaths,” Tyrion’s confession to Shae, the new visage of Jaqen H’ghar, and the blue, glassy eyes of the white rider. As the army of white walkers faded out and the end credits played, I’ll confess I felt happy Season Two is over, though it does mean a long, tedious wait for season three. I never loved Book Two, “A Clash of Kings,” which served as the primary text for this second season. The book lacked momentum and Season Two often suffered the same pacing problems. In truth, I always felt the show was best when it deviated from the source material (i.e. the stolen dragons plot thread).
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Game of Thrones really delivered what’s arguably the best battle sequence ever produced for television tonight. There were a couple amazing episodes of HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific, sure. But capturing a World War II battle is working from a well-documented blueprint. It’s not like there are any historical photos of a wildfire explosion, you know? “Blackwater” took place on land and at sea. There were advanced special effects and good ‘ol fashion sword fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Plus, Blackwater had pivotal moments for so many Thrones characters — from Tyrion to Stannis, from Joffrey to Sansa, from Cersei to The Hound … they were all battle tested tonight.
And not that we don’t love Arya, Jon, Daenerys and the rest, but I couldn’t even imagine cutting away from the castle siege story for a second. Even before the fighting started, when we hopped around the castle and checked in with everyone, I was hoping that we wouldn’t leave. “Blackwater” was written by author George R. R. Martin himself and directed by Niel Marshall (The Descent, Centurion, Doomsday); a man who definitely knows how to “do more with less” and came in during the eleventh hour to triumphantly oversee this series’ most ambitious production yet.
But the Lannister’s have one ace up their sleeves: the savvy mind of Lord Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage.) “I’m the captain of the ship, and if the ship goes down, I go with her,” says Tyrion. “That is good to hear, though I’m sure many captains say the same while their ship is afloat,” says Lord Varys (Conleth Hill). Varys goes on to warn the Hand that Stannis has pledged himself to the “dark arts” and will likely rain woe on the few who survive inside Kings Landing if the walls are breached. “I believe you are the only man who can stop him,” he says.
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The Prince of Winterfell
Game of Thrones is just two scant episodes away from its finale and it doesn’t even seem close to wrapping up during ‘The Prince of Winterfell’ on May 20. The episode feels more like a setup for an elaborate chess game. All the pieces are set and ready for the ultimate checkmate. The problem with this is very little happens during the course of the episode.
The eponymous “Prince” of this week’s episode started out with the best of intentions: seeking to win back his father’s favor after Balon declared himself King of the Iron Islands, he naturally — and foolishly — assumed a little mission creep might advance the old man’s cause and win himself a little much-needed respect. Unfortunately, hubris is a rather unforgiving character flaw. Starting with the botched execution of Ser Rodrik and ending with the murders of “Bran” and “Rickon,” Theon has worked himself into a corner from which it looks like no one can free him.
“The Prince of Winterfell” didn’t have a single dramatic focus or theme; it felt very much like an ultrapenultimate episode of a season, setting up storylines for the final two. But it was hard to ignore the number of conversations and incidents that were about children and parents, the complicated ways in which characters hurt the ones they love and how the ones you love can be used to hurt you. (Even Dany, who gets the least screen time in this episode, explains her decision to risk the House of the Undying for her dragons explains, “They are my children.”)
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