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Game of Thrones

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Episode 5 - Kissed by Fire

5 August 2017

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Jon Snow claims there are a thousand men at Castle Black and that sixteen watch posts along the wall are unmanned. Ygritte tests his vows to the Knights Watch by seducing him. Lord Karstark kills the Lannister boys being held at Riverrun as vengeance for his dead sons. Robb executes him and loses half his army as a result. The Hound kills Beric but he comes back to life. Arya is to be offered in exchange for cash to her brother while Gendry decides to stay behind. Jaime's wound is tended to before he tells Brienne how he slayed the King. Stannis apologises to his wife for his infidelity but she knows all about it and is a devout follower of the Lord of Light. Stannis visits his daughter who ignores Davos' treachery to spend time with him. Tyrion negotiates with Olenna to cut down the cost of the Royal wedding. Tywin then informs him that he is to marry Sansa to avoid the Tyrells from claiming her. Cersei will marry Loras. Daenerys encourages the Unsullied to shed their slave names while Sers Jorah and Barristan jockey for position.

The Good: This was a terrific episode which had momentum, fluidity and connections between the stories in a way the previous four haven't. It also had several scenes of high emotional resonance which is surely what we are here for.

Surprisingly the most moving sequence came at Dragonstone where with Melissandre gone the true tragedy of Stannis' life was laid bare for all to see. Last season he mentioned the wife he had pushed to one side and now we meet her. Stannis appears here as if he doesn't truly believe in the Lord of Light and is ashamed of his behaviour. At the same time his wife looks like a woman he didn't want to spend time with anymore. She is fanatical in a way which makes him uncomfortable and holds (what appeared to be) his dead infant sons in jars in her room. She also hides his daughter who he seems equally regretful of abandoning. It's not clear if she has some kind of birth defect or was burnt but between that and her sex she has languished on the periphery where only Davos was kind to her. In a terribly sweet scene Shireen tries to teach him to read in prison. He naturally hurries her away till she asks "What will they do? Lock us in cells?" Those scenes gave us a clear picture of the goodness which could live at Dragonstone if the Lord of Light weren't being worshipped along with Stannis' ambition and bitterness.

What makes the Lord of Light such an intriguing deity is that on the other side of Westeros the apparently good Brotherhood without Banners worship him with equal vigour. And it seems the Lord of Light favours losers given Stannis' defeat at Blackwater and Beric's repeated deaths. The sword fight with the Hound was choreographed with real drama and the use of fire fit both combatants well. I was of course pleased to see the Trial by Combat justified in a religious context as doubtless it was during medieval times. Gendry's decision to stay led to a very nice exchange with Arya where she asks him to be her family but he points out that their different status in life would prevent them from remaining close once they reached Robb.

Robb meanwhile seemed to fall into the same trap that Ned did by putting the rules of strict justice ahead of realpolitik. It was an admirable stance but it leaves him in quite a bind. With half his army gone his only plan is to march on Casterly Rock but to accomplish it he will need Walder Frey's help. That will be an interesting conversation.

Speaking of which Jaime's full recounting of the last days of the Mad King was another emotive sequence as he vents about how he's had to suffer the unjust jibe of "King Slayer" for years. We finally understand what "Burn them all" referred to and hear what an awful position Jaime was in, forced to choose between his family, his oaths and the lives of everyone in the capital. Delivered in obvious pain and misery in bath with Brienne, the closest thing to a friend he has, it was further weight to shift our perception of Jaime from dilettante incestual child-murderer to someone a lot more complicated. Brienne asks why he hasn't shared his honourable motives with everyone and he spits back that he's felt pre-judged by 'honourable' men for some time now. Again it was a scene which gave us real reason to root for Brienne and Jaime as an odd non-sexual couple while filling in vital details about the history of Westeros.

The episode was filled with excellent cuts to dialogue which drew together the myriad plot threads as we jump to outside Astapor where Sers Jorah and Barristan reminisce about the battle for King's Landing including references to the awkward position of the Kings Guard and Thoros of Myr. In the present we see Ser Jorah fret over quite what Ser Barristan knows and protect his position as Dany's right hand man. She is busy getting to know her army who seem more than thrilled with their new ruler. I really liked the reaction of the new leader of the Unsullied which seemed to recognise that being Unsullied is now part of these men's identity and is likely to have a much larger imprint than their distant childhoods.

Down at King's Landing we finished on a real high. But before that we got more intriguing political machinations. Lady Olenna had another fine bit of dialogue as Tyrion accepted that he had met his match while Baelish intriguingly seemed to recognise it was time to back off. The use of sex to get information out of Loras fitted Baelish's promise to f*ck his way to the top and I loved the touch that Sansa had begun to wear her hair like cool Queen-to-be Margaery. The final scene delivered on a very well set table with real impact. Tywin finally shows us the kind of decision making he is renowned for by marrying his children off to fairly shocking targets. Tyrion was as honourable and self effacing as it comes by responding with horror to the idea of marrying Sansa. More than the basic unsuitability of the match he seemed genuinely upset on her behalf that she would be forced to marry an unattractive, older man who was part of the family that beheaded her father. While for Cersei the blow was to realise that she was once again to be treated as a pawn rather than a player. I doubt she cares too much about a loveless marriage with Loras as much as she does about losing a seat at the table. Whether either union will actually take place I don't know but it capped off a really strong episode with a gut punch of consequence.

Two points I didn't find space for were that Lord Bolton seemed kind (but teasing) in his treatment of Jaime and Brienne. While we learn that Maester Pycelle has been in the pay of the Lannisters for some time now and was responsible for letting Tywin's army in to sack the city.

The Bad: When an episode is this good it only makes me mourn that Game of Thrones isn't a twenty two episode series that could give some of these excellent characters (and actors) more time to shine.

The Unknown: Jon Snow and Ygritte's romance seemed to have skipped several chapters as they slept together and she confessed she never wanted to leave the comfort of their cave. I wasn't sure where that desire came from beyond the fact that she knows the cold terrors which wait beyond the safety of Manse's army. I assume Jon's lie about their being a thousand men at Castle Black was indeed a lie. We never saw anything like that number and the Watch rode in force at the end of Season One so even if they had that number they don't anymore. I'm not clear as to how that lie would help though if sixteen other posts are empty.

The magic which keeps bringing Beric back to life will need some explaining. Shireen's damaged face instantly made me wonder if she was burnt in some kind of Lord of Light related incident. I suppose we should not assume that Lord Baelish has entirely withdrawn his plans to spirit Sansa away. We know what he's capable of. I don't know if it's a plot detail that will be addressed but I now wonder why Jaime was a Kings Guard? It seems like by joining he gave up his chance to be Tywin's heir. Perhaps he was running away from his fierce father?

Best Moment: Probably Jaime's speech should take it as it was beautifully written and performed and the bath setting was attention grabbing and unusual.

Conclusion: Delivery is key now for Game of Thrones. The main players are all entering serious territory which would actually change their lives for good. If we see that unfold then we should be in for some great television.

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  • I agree, I had been getting rather impatient until the scene at the end of the last episode with all the slave warrior leaving the city with Danearis. Then I was intrigued. Did these soldiers even care they were now 'free'? That was my favourite part of this episode because the 'grey worm' dialogue at least made clear that these warriors have actual personalities, diluted as they are by their training. I very much like your take on the hound's redemption through combat. What does justice have to do with fighting? Whereas with Tyrien I didn't care, in this instance it felt more relevant and I couldn't put my finger on why until I read your take that it was probably through religion that people interpreted these things in medieval times. The show is such a jumble but, I think for the first time, I'm impressed that they seem to be juggling the balls well, keeping me interested without rushing through too much. Let's hope it continues.

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by TheGman, 04/08/2017 1:12pm (6 months ago)

  • Dave - I have no problem with your comments. I still think we are on different wavelengths though. The way I see the Trial by Combat is just my perception, opinion and emotional response to seeing it on screen. To some extent its irrelevant what is in the book or what happened in medieval times. My objection to it is about how it is presented on the show. I suggested on the podcast that if the trial was given a religious connotation then it would help explain to me why rational men would think it a fair form of justice. And that turned out to be exactly how it was presented this episode.

    Similarly it doesn't matter to me that Beric acknowledges Arya this week. It seemed odd that he didn't do it when he first saw her and that remains true whether or not he did this episode.

    As for the babies in jars, the presentation of them versus the Governor's heads was quite different. Stannis' wife is presented as fanatical and perhaps unhinged but she is a minor character who Stannis responds to with appropriate caution. Whereas the sight of the Governor's collection immediately demanded from the audience a response to this central figure which coloured our perception of the whole season. So there's a big difference.

    Does that all make sense? We seem to view the same events in different contexts. I'm looking at how each story affects me. I'm not judging them on whether they are a coherent collection of facts but how successfully they manipulate my emotions.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 30/04/2013 11:21am (5 years ago)

  • Craig, I take it that comment regarding criticizing Robin's review is about me. I think my posts are rather softballs compared to the strict book purists and hardcore GoT fans who post on other websites, but if my posts seems like I'm giving Robin a hard time, then I do apologize for that. I always believe if critics wants to be a critic that one must take criticism. Robin, if I am giving you a hard time, please let me know and I will stop immediately and just focus 100% on the show than your reviews.

    Posted by Dave, 30/04/2013 7:13am (5 years ago)

  • Going back on last week's feedback, regarding Beric Dondarrion where he didn't acknowledged Arya Stark, I was going to mention that he will do it after the trial by combat, but that would have spoiled it for you. Also, it would be hokey to say "Hi Arya. I fought with your father" when he had more pressing matters to deal with it. Another reason why he didn't return with the Starks is because of his new found religion. Regarding Trial by Combat, I don't see what's our secular environment has to do with it, maybe if GoT was set in a modern times that's something to consider, but set in medieval times blend with fantasy elements . Some people watch this show for escapism than for realism like people do with cops shows or other dramas like it.

    About this week's episode, it's a good episode but a few certain took it down to not get a higher score than last week's.

    The Good:

    The last scene with Tywin, Cersei and Tyrion were good, as well as combat between Beric and the Hound. But Jaime's confession to Brienne was the best scene of the lot. I held my tongue or in this case, typing fingers about Jaime's transformation this season on how he's becoming more sympathetic. Credit to the show and mostly to GRRM, because it's a more difficult to turn a hated character to a sympathetic one than the other way around. The latter you just have to get the character to kill babies or children then boom, he's a despicable character. Some of my friends who are non-book readers still don't like Jaime because he pushed Bran out the window and killed his cousin. I wish the show didn't do the later, not because it wasn't in the books, but it was a stupid plan to begin with. Jaime could have knocked out his cousin instead. Then you got the Northern man who stupidly turn his back to Jaimie like a cliché stupid guard. He might have tried to kill Bran, but he cares about Lannister family, even if it's a cousin he barely knows.

    The Bad:

    The relationship between Jon and Ygritte is rushed. I thought they would continue with their development from season 2. Qhorin Halfhand barely had any scenes with Jon in the result of that. But this season, Jon & Ygritte hardly interact with each other, now they want to be together. It seems rushed in the show, whereas the book had the luxury to develop their relationship.

    While the actress who played Stannis' daughter, Shireen was good, but can't help noticed that she has blond hair. Aren't true born Baratheons suppose to have black hair? Would seems like a nitpick, but seeing as Baratheons' hair colour was a important piece in the story from season 1 says otherwise. Either the show runners have some sort of explanation in later episodes or somebody screwed up badly. I'm surprised a lot of people didn't pick up on this.

    This is one of those book reader complaint, I know I know, I hate me too. I was disappointed that they cut Robb's speech on why he had to behead Karstark. Catelyn and his wife made a good point in keeping Karstark hostage, but it instantly cut away to the beheading. Makes Robb look like he shrugged his shoulders and ignored them to be a complete douche.

    Onto your review, Robin. Don't worry, I won't go on much on it, I don't want to cope a stick again. :) I'm surprise, you didn't mentioned the babies in jars like you did with that Walking Dead's heads in fish tanks. Some people I know had a problem with that scene. Not me though, but the scene made me think of TWD and that's not a good thing after a disappointing season 3.

    The magic that made Beric come back to life needs some explaining, then again they never explained how a smoke monster came out of Melissandre (as well Jaqen's face changing) other than magic. So I'm not going to hold my breath. But I did figure out where they are going with Podrick Sex God. It's up to him to find out the truth on how Melissandre makes smoke babies. LOL.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 30/04/2013 3:06am (5 years ago)

  • As I am coming to expect now, Jaimie's scenes were the best. His story was breathtaking and completed his long-gestating movement from hated to sympathetic. This time his scenes were closely followed in quality by Arya's though. Her rage against the hound was something to behold, as was that sword fight beforehand. And in the ending moments, where GoT often goes for bombast, or at least people losing body parts, this episode elected for grim but quiet revelations, handed down in the form of iron plans by inimitable Tywin. A very entertaining episode.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 29/04/2013 9:50pm (5 years ago)

  • Great episode all around. Although the battle between the Hound and Beric, as well as the be-heading of Lord Karstark were good, the dialogue in this episode is really what stands out for me. I thought the scene in the tub with Jaimie and Brienne was great. It sheds new light on the image of Ned Stark and continues to portray Jaime as a completely different character from the person of the first season. The scene between Tywin, Tyrion and Cersei was very well done. It is easy to feel bad for Sansa in this situation, but you also feel bad for Tyrion (he will have to live with a wife who will hate him) and Cersei, who has the tables turned completely around on her. I liked the conversation between Jorah Mormont and Ser Barriston, simply because it answers some questions that we have regarding how Dany will be received once she comes to Westeros. I have read the books so a lot of my enjoyment of the show is the anticipation of things to come. The performances are so much more emotional than I could have imagined.

    On another note regarding Robin's reviews. I don't understand why people give you a hard time. I respect the way you review your shows and I don't expect you to give in to emotional traps (most respected critics can put emotions aside). Stick to your guns and tell those who criticize your reviews to relax.

    Viewer score: 67 / 100

    Posted by Craig, 29/04/2013 9:00pm (5 years ago)

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