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Game of Thrones



Episode 8 - Second Sons

22 May 2013

Credit HBO

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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  • This was a satisfying episode overall in which progress was made on nearly every front.
    I agree with you that Tyrion left the biggest impression this time around. Peter Dinklage owns the role as Tyrion and really put him back in the spotlight after almost being reduced to a side character in the latest episodes.
    Cerseis behavior towards Margary was fittingly dickish but she also may have a point there as her position as queen regent is obviously threatened by this younger and more charismatic contender. She also had the best dialogue of the episode in her first meeting with Loras. It seemed as if the writers acknowledged the nature of the show where two characters try to outsmart each other with their wits. Loras clearly lost this one.
    Sansa admitting to be only fourteen years old felt odd to me too when the actress is clearly not.
    The Stannis/Mellisandre storyline was well played especially on Mellisandres part. Her delivery almost let me forget that her whole bondage sex scheme with Gendry was kind of stupid. According to her allegory before his “meat” was darkened (?) in the moment he saw the leeches on his body.
    Sams final “redemption” in which he killed the White Walker was predictable yet enjoyable to watch and he still left his precious magic knife behind him in the snow. Good character continuation there. I don’t know if it was a good choice to let the exact same guy appear as the white walker that we have seen before in the final of season two.
    This was clearly a more compelling episode. But it is also obvious that the last two episodes have to turn out quite strong to make this season as a whole as well as the first two.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Robert, 21/05/2013 2:50am (5 years ago)

  • Forgot to add this complaint about Arya/The Hound scene. The Hound didn't tie her up when he sleeps? I'm more surprise that Arya didn't book it when she had the chance, seeing as she considers him to be "the worst" and just a few episodes ago she wanted him to die. Throughout the show, you see Arya running off on her own or trying to escape, so it's weird she didn't do it there.

    Posted by Dave, 21/05/2013 2:45am (5 years ago)

  • Better than the last two episodes for sure. Annoying that we have two weeks wait for the next episode.

    The Good:

    Tyrion and Sansa's wedding definitely the best moment in this episode. Thank god, the show didn't have Sansa shed more clothes like in the books. From the awkwardness between Tyrion and Sansa, Tywin glaring at the giggling crowd and the verbal fight between Tyrion and Joffrey. Good moments during and after wedding alone.

    The scene with Dany and the second Sons were good, the scenes afterwards is what I found problematic. The actor who plays Mero was good, I thought he would suit playing Daario instead of the pretty boy Twlight reject they have on the show. I suppose, he's got time to convince me he's right for the role.

    No Theon torture scene! I guess his torturer is putting leeches on him... oh wait, wrong scene.

    The Bad:

    I would have liked more screen time with Arya and the Hound. I have friends have grown to adore the two and they agree that their scene in this episode was so brief.

    While I liked Cersei telling Margaery story of the Rains of Castamere, which would have been a good enough reason for their conversation to stop there. But the show went over the top with her threatening to kill Margaery in her sleep. I know Cersi suppose to hate her, but she kept it subtle until a later point. I hope she's not going to be the next Littlefinger.

    While the scene with Sam slaying the Wight Walker was good, why the hell he leave behind the dagger that saved Gilly, her baby and himself? I know he still has multiple of those daggers, but it's not like they grow on trees and he shouldn't waste a rare weapon like that.

    Gendry screaming when Melisandre putting leaches on him. My emotion meter went down to 2/10. I think some guys would think putting leeches on your junk is a small price to pay to be able to nail someone as fine as Melisandre. Plus he didn't have to pay. I know some people who would glady pay to do some kinky stuff like that. If you didn't know, I'm kidding about this whole bit. I'm definitely drunk typing this up.

    Regarding your unknowns, Robin... wait before you groan, I actually agree a lot of things you mentioned with one exception. I agree the actress who plays Sansa doesn't look fourteen now. On season 1, the actress looks the part as 13 year old Sansa, but she seems to have sprouted a foot tall at the start of season 2. Notice how she towers some of the other actors now compared to S1, which something casting couldn't anticipate. Maisie Williams who plays Arya, who is one year younger than Sophie, doesn't seem to have grown a lot in comparison. I think Sophie is 17 now and girls usually stop growing at around 18, so it's safe to say she won't reach the height of NBA players. So I'm not too worried about her when three or so seasons have past in show. Besides, Margaery suppose to be 16 years old (around 18 in the show since they aged the kids up) and Natalie Dormer definitely doesn't look like a teenager. But doesn't bother me, as she's killing it as Margaery. The actor who plays Bran is more problematic, he seems to have went through puberty after fleeing Winterfell.

    I agree with the White Walker brushing Sam aside for a second time now. Is there a shirt he's wearing that has "please, don't kill me." on the back? In books, he was travelling with a couple of his black brothers along with Gilly. One of the brothers was fighting the WW then was killed, which gave Sam an opportunity to stab the WW. I hope Sam being ignored by the WW isn't a reoccurring thing.

    I agree with your thoughts on Daario and how easily he handed the army over to Dany. The whole thing played out differently and imo, better in the book, but I won't bore people with the details. Also, Dany doesn't seem to be bothered that a man sneaked up to her while she bathes. I suppose bringing the decapitated heads of her enemies is her turn on.

    Last week regarding Shae, my complaint is really more of the actress' acting ability leaves much to be desired than what the writers are doing with her. Though, I have to ask why she seems more dismissive towards Tyrion than in the books, when Tyrion can just hook up with another prostitute who doesn't get so easily irritated at him. It's not like TV Shae is more intelligent that will satisfy Tyion's inquisitive brain than book Shae, imo. As book Shae knows how to get Tyion wrapped up in her fingers better than tv Shae. What makes me shake my head during her scenes is when she gets angry because to me, she seems to be doing a bad imitation of Sofia Vergara in Modern Family.

    P.S. Aren't you glad I type this up instead of me leaving all this on your voicemail?

    Viewer score: 63 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 21/05/2013 2:04am (5 years ago)

  • “The Second Sons” – a title no doubt referring to not just the mercenaries we have met but also Tyrion and The Hound – two “second sons” both of whom are in a sense protecting the Stark daughters, even if those who they are protecting are not completely enamored with their guardians for the moment.
    While Arya and The Hound may never be friends, it did not take all that long for Arya to soften up to The Hound at least a little bit. While The Hound may be on Arya’s “Death List” – I have a feeling he won’t be for long. Arya is a smart girl and I think is open minded enough to reconsider her own perceptions if faced with contrary evidence. Despite the fact that The Hound killed her friend in an earlier episode, The Hound might be self-serving, but is not a “bad guy”. Arya’s proclamation that, “You’re a liar”, after The Hound relayed his saving of Sansa on multiple occasions, was less than convincing.
    I hope that we continue to see an evolution of Stannis and Davos. It is vicariously through the eyes of Davos – a character I trust – that I can squint and see the man Stannis was. I enjoy the chemistry between these two characters, although, as Stannis stated, it is difficult to be a non-believer in a God when that God has apparently given you tangible evidence to believe in it. My own atheism would certainly be challenged under similar circumstances. His defense of Gendry reminded me of Ned’s defense of Dany back in Season One. It’s good to know that for some people in this world, simply being a member of a blood line does not make one guilty. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” does seem to exist in this world to some. On a side note, Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos, is exceptional and might be my favorite minor character actor on the show. He could have played a character such as Tywin Lannister with equal conviction. On a secondary side note – unless my family history is off – Stannis is himself a “second son”.
    Dany….while her new friend from the Second Sons may indeed be loyal and fight for her – I hope there is at least the slightest bit of skepticism of someone who would behead their colleagues of years for someone they just met earlier that same day. This is not the first time Dany has been delivered a “gift” of a severed head – and it’s also a reminder that she’s come a long way since she was wandering aimlessly in the desert with only a few supporters. If Dany bathed a little bit more often, I wouldn’t complain.
    Final quick thoughts:
    - The family tree summation by the Queen of Thorns was hysterical.
    - I hope to get invited to a Lannister wedding one day (but I’d hate to be a participant).
    - Does Cersei have any allies left?.....I wonder if Jamie’s perception of her will be different now that he has undergone a transformation of character.
    - Sam….Sam……did you leave the glass dagger behind? – I didn’t see you pick it up. I hope I just missed it.
    - I have no criticisms of the “pacing” issues as discussed. I trust the show enough to know that we will be paid off. But I don’t mind simply spending time with these characters. Sometimes a clever or thought-provoking conversation is the reward itself, even if it’s not necessarily part of a storyline progression. I’d rather spend 10 episodes just hanging out with this people at times, then an abbreviated season where every moment must be filled with a very distinct forward progression.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Jeff, 20/05/2013 10:40pm (5 years ago)

  • What a great episode for Tyrion, my favorite character from last season, and one who has gotten far too little to do this season until now. His drunken confrontation with Joffrey was cheer-worthy, and his various expressions of embarrassment, despair, rage, and chivalry were all excellent. The writers finally gave Dinklage something to do again, and he hit every emotional beat out of the park.

    That said, most of the rest of this episode was pretty aggravating. No substantial progress anywhere (except for with Samwell, whose dagger apparently is actually super useful)! In my mind I keep comparing this show to the other Sunday night cable offering I watch, Mad Men. It's funny because Mad Men has many of the plot points of a soap opera (affairs, secret identities, pregnancies, etc.), but Game of Thrones has the structure---myriad storylines that inch along and a frustrating lack of progress or payoff for multiple episodes on end. I imagine we're going somewhere big with all the weddings and what not, but there are so many characters just randomly wandering around the wilderness that my imagination and my patience are both running perilously thin.

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 20/05/2013 6:33am (5 years ago)

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