Another week of table-setting and world-expanding for Game of Thrones, and a slightly less successful one than the last, which did a remarkable job threading the storyline, catching things up, and introducing some of the new players to the game. Things were a little more straightforward and predictable this week – but nonetheless still great, and obviously only going to get better moving forward.
Daenerys draws the short end of the stick again, and we get but a mere glimpse of her shitty situation in the shitty desert. Other Dothraki tribes are reminding her that they’re not big fans of the whole woman in power thing, and are sending her back horses adorned with heads in bags. Pretty clear message, and again shows us that the mountain she climbed emotionally in season 1 is but a molehill compared to the physical and mental problems she’s going to face this season. In other words, she needs to find some dragon food before those little fuckers just croak.
Across the narrow sea and to the north, we finally get introduced to Pyke and the Iron Islands as Theon returns home to see his family and deliver a message to his father. One of my favorite passages from the first half of A Clash of Kings, the scene of him arriving and seeing the castles at Pyke and recalling his family history are unfortunately lost in translation, instead replaced with a quick bout of trademarked GoT sexplotation (with a crooked tooth, weird-boobed woman, who readers of the book will recall is the daughter of the ship’s captain) clarifying some of Theon’s history – and reminding us how poorly that was handled in season 1.
Theon’s arc is an interesting one this season, in part because he is somewhat defined by a conflict that takes place years before the show begins (like every other character, to varying degrees), and provides a rich little knot into the Robb and Theon’s relationship. Like all houses, the Greyjoy’s are an interesting – and complicated – family with their own unique belief system, and for the moment, their own king. Best of all, Theon showing up to claim as heir and extension of Robb Stark’s voice completely backfired, and things suggest Balon might be going after Robb and the Starks, instead of heading south to deal with the Lannisters.
No sight of Robb, Jamie, Bran, or Catelyn this week, and much of their time is dedicated to the boys up North of the Wall. I’m not really enjoying this story line to this point, and didn’t feel invested in it enough to get excited by the reveal at the end – though it is nice to see those blue eyes for the first time since the pilot, a little reminder of where it all started. It feels like more of a distraction on the way to more important things (like the grumblings of this King beyond the Wall), and now that Jon’s been pulled into the mess of the Craster family, probably one that’s going to drag on a bit longer than we’d like. Yes Sam, you love girls but never have or will get laid… shit happens my dude, invest in some Vaseline.
Things in King’s Landing are again proving to be the most intriguing parts of this season, as Tyrion becomes comfortable in his position as Hand of the King. Tyrion’s scene walking down the hallway was a great juxtaposition of his attitude towards his obligations with Ned’s demeanor in season one: where Tyrion struts and whistles, Ned walked around brooding and uncomfortable. Tyrion is ready to play the game, and unlike Ned, isn’t afraid to remind the people around him of that fact. His scene with Varys was terrific – and again reminds us that there are many other skilled players in the same game.
While we’re on the Lannisters, it’s worth noting the changes in Cersei this season. The calm air of confidence from season one is quickly dissipating, although her core remains as fierce as the lion of their sigil. But man is she stressed, and Lena Headey is doing a great job displaying it, contrasting her determination with her physical restlessness, and providing some texture to a character that felt remarkably one-noted in the first season.
There isn’t any one event connecting events and places together in this episode like last week’s comet, and while the show has improved on its transitions from season one, things did bounce around a little noticeably this week. But like last season, it’s going to take three or four episodes of arranging the different chess pieces before the pace begins to pick up, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This week provided some layers to characters like Theon, Davos, and gave us another reminder that Melisandre is crazy, and definitely going to FSU for Stannis at some point.
- Ghost makes an appearance to remind us that yes, direwolves are fucking enormous.
- The scene with Roz and Littlefinger felt forced and way out of place. Is Littlefinger still feeling emasculated from Cersei’s little display that he needed to remind Roz that she’s a whore, and he’ll sell a whore for some cash? Felt unnecessary, and in reality, would someone like Roz really be that deeply affected by infanticide? I’m sure she’s seen some awful shit in her travels.
- So, Theon, how did it feel to ‘Jamie Lannister’ your sister while she gave you a ride on the horse? Just another example of how Theon doesn’t think before he acts (or speaks, or gets an erection).
- Starting to really like Gendry and Arya, and hope their friendship doesn’t become a romance. The big brother/little sister vibe they have going is great… though if they were a couple, I’d have to start cheering for them to be king and queen…. something I try not to do, because getting attached to someone emotionally is always a bad omen in Westeros. Keep it in your pants, children.
- Can we just have a whole episode where Cersei, Littlefinger, Varys, and Tyrion sit around and talk smack to each other? While some people are off leading battle parties into bloody wars with swords, these people are executing moves just as militaristic and skillful with their tongues. Simply a pleasure to watch every week.
- when are we going to check in with good old Renly, who disappeared right after Robert’s death way back in episode seven of season one? I really want to see that infamous group of knights he has with him, and how the show interpreted their gear. I won’t ruin the surprise for newbies, but in the book, it’s hilarious.
what did you think of this week’s episode? too sprawling, too slow, or did it hit the sweet spot? Feel free to discuss in the comments section, but NO SPOILERS.