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Game of Thrones

HBO

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67
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Episode 2 - Dark Wings, Dark Words

11 April 2013

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Sansa tells the truth about Joffrey to Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna Tyrell. Joffrey then calls Margaery in to test her and she begins to seduce him. Shae warns Tyrion about Baelish. Robb turns his army toward Riverrun for Catelyn's father's funeral. Catelyn tells Talisa about her guilt over raising Jon Snow. Jon continues to win Mance's trust and meets a Warg who can communicate with animals. Bran learns that he is one and something more by new arrivals Jojen and Meera Read. Theon is tortured somewhere by someone for some purpose. Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry run into Thoros of Myr a member of the Brotherhood without Banners. He treats them honourably until the Hound arrives in captivity and recognises Arya. Jamie is recognised by a farmer who tips off some north men who close in on him and Brienne.

The Good: Across these first two episodes you can sense the struggles of Benioff and Weiss to wrestle the material down into a digestible format. Although they wisely spread out the stories of our main characters they still had to introduce a number of new characters with the result that few stories had the chance to breathe. It's a shame because those that did were very strong.

The unquestioned highlight of this was the electric scene between Margaery and Joffrey. The earlier scene with Joffrey and Cersei gave us a glimpse of his core. It's easy to think of him as the pantomime villain and ignore the reality under the surface. He looks every inch the coddled Royal prince who learnt at a young age to confront feelings of inadequacy by barking out orders instead of winning respect. His mother's questions, about Margaery, make him uncomfortable because he is probably equally scared and turned on by her. An impression that's confirmed when he calls her in for a private meeting. He's determined to regain the upper hand he has in any other interaction and so falls back on the same tactics he used to brow beat Sansa into submission. But Margaery is made of tougher stuff. The way she gave in at every turn, making all his accusations seem accurate while subtly shifting the conversation toward Renly's homosexuality was masterful. She then plays to his ego in convincing fashion before the coup de grace. The crossbow is a perfect symbol of Joffrey. While Arya and Brienne have mastered the weapon that is most valuable in this world, Joffrey relies on something far easier and safer to master. Margaery quickly assesses the emotions he has wrapped up in his weapon and seduces him with the thought that she might really worship him for the masterful qualities that he doesn't possess. I'm not sure there's been a better character scene on Game of Thrones, believable, engaging and brilliantly crafted.

It's not hard to see where Margaery gets it from after meeting her formidable Grandmother. The Tyrell family seem the perfect contrast to the Stark's as they become bedfellows with the Lannister's. Olenna is in no doubt how the game really works and is not phased to hear the truth about the King. Once more I found Sansa pretty moving as she let her guard drop to recall how she's been tormented. The brief Tyrion-Shae scene kept the Baelish story more present than I'd expected and their chemistry is always enjoyable to watch.

Equally moving was Catelyn's speech about how she blames herself for the calamities which have befallen her children. I knew instantly that the child she was remembering was Jon and that's a mark of how immersed in the story I've become. Her guilt helps us to understand her strange decision making over the last two seasons. She's clearly desperate to keep her children safe and increasingly it looks like she has lost them all except for Robb.

Even Commander Mormont's decision to keep Sam alive by entrusting him to Rast was emotive in the simple humanity of it.

The Bad: The blocking was poor as the Hound revealed Arya's identity. She went to such great lengths to avoid Baelish's gaze that to just shuffle past Sandor side on felt like a letdown.

The Unknown: Otherwise the scenes with the Brotherhood without Banners was fine. The fact that Thoros is a brigand but was perfectly honourable and knew both the Hound and Gendry's former master all seemed a bit convenient.

It would be nice at this point to have an update on the war. I can follow the basic maths. The Lannister's have most of the South at their disposal and so with Blackwater wiping out so many Baratheon men, the Northern army is now outnumbered and less optimistic. But what about the geography? Where are the Lannister armies? What does heading to Riverrun mean for the prospects of battle and what is Robb's plan to win the war? Lord Karstark's comment that the war was lost when Robb got married needs elaboration too. Does he mean Robb has been permanently distracted or is he referring to the deal with Walder Frey (109)?

I thought it was clever to introduce the concept of the Warg north of the wall where such things would seem normal before revealing that as part of the explanation for Bran's dreams. The introduction of Jojen and Meera was basic though. Again a geography or politics lesson might have been nice. Surely there are Stark bannermen north of Winterfell who would protect the King's brother?

Theon's torture was brutal and mysterious but we are as much in the dark as he is at this point.

Jamie is always fun to listen to and had some terrific jabs for Renly while admitting to his own unconventional love. However I'm not convinced that his scenes with Brienne have got us very far. I may be wrong but I don't see their partnership ending so soon and imagine that the "cliff hanger" will only lead to some dead banner men and the odd couple continuing south. If true then it was a weak ending moment.

Best Moment: Margaery mastering Joffrey.

Conclusion: We're into the Game of Thrones formula again as multiple stories inch forward while those given a few minutes to deliver usually do.

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  • Good: The fight scene between Jaime and Brienne was exhilarating. I had been expecting Jaime to make a move between his incessant jabbering, and so I was eager once the fight finally did start. Brienne's subsequent mastery of Jaime was quite convincing.

    The Tyrells are masterful. Absolutely fascinating developments. I am eager to see more interactions with the Queen of Thorns. She seems to be a genuinely good person, but still knows how the game is played.

    Thoros and the Brotherhood without Banners were great.

    Bad: The scene between Shea and Tyrion was horrendous. The dialog seemed off-character to me, and as a result was quite jarring.

    In summary, it is so refreshing to watch such an engaging and well-done show (in particular after the disappointing execution of S3 of The Walking Dead 0_o)

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Matt Uebel, 10/04/2013 4:52pm (6 years ago)

  • This episode was better than the premiere. A few bad, but they were minor compared to last week's episode.

    The best moment for me was Sansa, Olenna and Margaery scene. It was beautiful ly acted from the three and confirmed for me that Diana Rigg was right for the role. If I remember correctly, this scene was the most faithful to the book in this episode, but even without that it's still my best moment.

    A lot of people, mainly the book readers had problems with Catelyn's speech. I don't share that opinion, because I thought the actress really nailed that scene. Let never be said that I'm a book purist!

    The bad were Tyrion and Shae scene. I know that it was mentioned that the two who played Theon and Brienne weren't convincing in their roles. But for me, the actress who played Shae is the weakest performer in the show. She has her ups like when she stood up for Sansa and threaten that poor servant lady and scenes when her and Tyrion gets along. It's when the two fight each other like in this episode is when she falls apart. It probably doesn't help with her limited acting ability that she's not good when she get angry. The whole scene is more like checking in and just to have Peter Dinklage on the episode than anything worthwhile, much like Night's Watch scene. It has to be said that I prefer if the show gives characters more screen time than jump scene to scene trying to fit everyone in with only a few minutes for each of them.

    I like Arya meeting the Brotherhood, but yes that whole thing how the Hound revealed her identity wasn't handled very well.

    Now, I'll answer the questions you have with best my ability, without getting into spoilers, Robin. Thoros is no mere brigand. In season 1, during that scene with Jory Cassel and Jaime Lannister, they talked about him. But I don't want talk too much about him as it's spoiling it for you.

    The Lannister armies are on King's Landing and areas around Casterly Rock, seeing as the Mountain fled Harrenhal, but not before killing all the Northerners and Riverrun soldiers their captured, seeing as Robb's men were marching there as shown last episode. Robb was heading to Riverrun to forge an alliance and gather men to fight with them as well as to attend Cat's father funereal, seeing as Riverrun was pretty much just holding their own with the Lannisters. Lord Karstark was referring to the latter. He has a point, Robb vowed to marry a Frey, who also provided men to fight with the Northerners going back to season 1, but marrying Talisa seems to fracture their alliance. With the Lannister/ Tyrell alliance, Robb is going to need all the soldiers they can muster.

    Your problem with the ending of this episode, assuming that what you predicted comes true, is pretty much what I had problems with last episode's opener with the Battle of the Fist of the First Men. Last season finale showed the White Walkers and wights this big threat to the Night's Watch, but last episode the battle was over before Sam got there, unless he took a really long nap. It felt like the NW repelled the undead army, which I got from the non-book readers I know and makes you think what's the big deal with the White Walkers when an undermanned NW managed to overcome them. When in fact in the book, they lost approximately a third of their men and retreated, while the undead were still on their asses. If the show was going for that, instead of the NW winning the battle, then they did a poor job of that. If you're retreating you don't usually head to the direction to the army that just kicked your ass, unless Sam (who somehow escaped) looped around the battle and when he was shown running in the opening scene was heading to the rest of NW from the rear. If they didn't have Sam left behind on last season's finale, maybe I wouldn't have as much problem with it. Still, show consequences of the battle, apart from one wight, one dead crow and cuts here and there from NW's men. Upon reading the next episode's synopsis, they might show the aftermath of the battle. I have ask why they didn't do that on the previous episode.

    Viewer score: 64 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 09/04/2013 3:49am (6 years ago)

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