Episode 8 - Second Sons
22 May 2013
Synopsis: Sam and Gilly take shelter while ravens gather noisily above them. A White Walker approaches seemingly to take the baby but Sam stabs it with the First Men's knife and it disintegrates. The Hound tells Arya that he is taking her to the Twins. Stannis tells Davos about Gendry's blood and Davos asks for proof of its power. Tyrion and Sansa marry and Joffree makes sure they are both humiliated. The Second Sons arrive to fight for Yunkai but one of their captains Daario Naharis betrays them pledging himself to the beautiful Daenerys.
The Good: This was the week of the good guys apparently with Davos, Sam and Tyrion all standing out for their kindness which stands are a stark contrast in the world of endless talk of rape and torture. Sam's dramatic stabbing of the White Walker was visually impressive and presumably points the way toward our characters being able to defend themselves once battle is joined. Ser Davos and Stannis played out an entertaining conflict between the convert and the agnostic which may have temporarily saved Gendry's life.
As for Tyrion, no surprise that his story was the strongest this week. His reluctance to make fourteen year old Sansa go through with a life that she doesn't deserve remains admirable. His awkward attempts to reassure her pre and post wedding about his good intentions was well portrayed but it was Joffree's position as Royal shit stirrer which made things really interesting. The simple act of removing Tyrion's footstool was dickish enough but then to threaten to rape Sansa makes it hard not to want to stab the guy yourself. Tyrion's drunken threats toward his nephew led to a horribly awkward moment when you wondered if Joffree might just have his uncle killed. I really enjoyed the way Tyrion climbed down from that. Falling back on the self deprecation which is his lot in life he plays the incident off as a joke and mocks his own manhood as he hurries his new bride away from the party. The absorption of shame in that decision endears me more to him than his reluctance to sleep with his wife.
The wedding allowed for some choice moments. Cersei threatening Margaery was suitably brutal but I laughed at her utter disinterest in Ser Loras (along with her suspicious 'Why radiant?' after Marge's compliment). Tywin was immense once more refusing to let Tyrion get anything past him. Olenna had fun at the silliness of it all and we even got a brief shot of Pycelle chatting up young women which amused me. It's great fun when a show can make internal jokes that we get so Tyrion's response "And so my watch begins" to the question of what he'd do if she never wanted to sleep with him was terrific. Similarly we only needed a brief back-story for Sam for me to laugh at the line "Please don't name him Randall."
The Hound's self confidence was an enjoyable contrast to the usual combination of threats that these hostage situations have created. Although the fact that he wants to take Arya back to her family makes me assume they won't get there.
The Bad: I'm borderline on plenty of moments but until they play out further I'll leave them to The Unknown.
The Unknown: Sansa confirming that she is only fourteen puts something of a strain on the show. She doesn't really look fourteen now. What happens in three seasons time if only a year or two have passed on Westeros? Although Tyrion refusing to sleep with her made him look impressively moral it didn't seem like the act of a man who has so few chips to play with. With Tywin breathing down his neck and Joffree just looking for a reason to get rid of him it seems like a major risk to defy their plans like this. Maybe he would be better off juggling for spare change in Bravos with Shae.
The Daenerys story was odd. Daario Naharis is a charismatic guy and his life philosophy felt typically engaging. However handing over two thousand men and a potential love interest couldn't help but feel like convenient nonsense.
This is a very minor nitpick because I know this happens to all villains but it's convenient that the White Walker didn't slice Sam in two and merely brushed him aside (again).
What did those drops of Gendry's blood do exactly? If they turn their victim into a giant a-hole then we'll only notice it with Robb.
Best Moment: Tyrion threatening Joffree. They've pulled no punches in making Joffree into someone we all hate and it's hard to think of anything more satisfying than Arya stabbing him through the heart one day.
Conclusion: I thought this was solid but not exactly episode eight of ten. The characterisation was generally good and the comedy in particular stood out. But again there felt like a lack of consequence. I stress that it's not about major incidents it's about genuine change. For example, the show is very fond of talking about rape. Too fond for my liking. Yes it is a fact of life and in pre-modern times a brutal unanswerable one everywhere. But if you talk about something like that then you force your audience to expect to see something serious take place. When Daario comes across a naked, vulnerable Dany and does nothing but flirt or Tyrion is reasonably asked to bed his bride and refuses or Gendry is treated like Theon only to donate a little blood it makes you question the story you're watching. Is Game of Thrones as brutal as the world it has created or is it backing away to present something more familiar to modern taste? Maybe next week I will be proven horribly wrong but that won't change the odd tonal shifts that have marked out the adaption.
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