Game of Thrones – Episode 6

Title: Game of Thrones

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Watched: Episode 6 – May 22, 2011

Status: First Season now airing on HBO

Summary: Unrelenting!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Episode 6,  “A Golden Crown.” The blast off that began last week with Episode 5 continues on full burn with Episode 6. The whole episode is pretty much wall to wall tension.

Unlike the first 4 episodes, exposition has been striped down to almost nothing. And after a week in absence, Dany and the Dothraki return with a vengeance. On her arc we see her eating an entire horse heart raw in a ritual to sort of anoint her son the prince in-vitro. Like the dragon, she sheds the skin of the vulnerable little girl. Even her crazy brother is aware of this, and it cripples his own hopes leading to the climatic and namesake scene.

In parallel, we have the resolution of Tyrion and the Eerie storyline. The Imp also comes into his own power, using his tongue to outfox both the imbecile turnkey Mord and the lady of the Vale herself. There’s both excellent dialogue and fun action in these scenes. My favorite line being, “You don’t fight with honor!” and the answer “No, he did,” pointing at the dead loser.

Jon takes a by for the second week in a row, but in Winterfell, we have a bit of development with Robb, Theon, and Bran, who is now outfitted with his special saddle that allows him to ride even without his legs. This leads to a pretty decent scene introducing Osha, although her hair and makeup looks more like Titiana in some production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is also yet another mysterious opportunity to show off Ros the hooker’s money (in the victorian sense).

The Dany, Tyrion and King’s Landing segments have roughly equal weight. Back in the capital, Robert has gone hunting (excuse for a little more fun between him and brother Renly) and Ned, reinstated as hand, is left to run the country. He starts by making another move against the Lannisters, opposing the actions of the mad giant the Mountain. For the novice viewer, this scene may seen a tad mysterious as well, as it serves to set up major actions and players in book 2 and 3. Arya continues some excellent work with Syrio. Then we have my least favorite scene in the episode, the only one I didn’t like, where Sansa is a bitch to her governess, and then that shit of a prince shows up to pretend to be nice to her. I’m not even sure this is in character after he’s been such a little prick to date.

The whole hour oozes tension and there are lots and lots of great moments. Four of the five story-lines are weaving here, and it feels fairly seamless except for one or two cuts.

Robert stands out as always, “killing things clears my head.” Tyrion and Bronn both, establishing this relationship that will continue for a while. Tyrion’s “confession” is a delight, particularly the part about the turtle stew! Dany with the heart is great, and the chanted Dothraki. I’ve always been a sucker for oracles, and “the stallion that mounts the world” and “a prince rides within me” bits gave me goosebumps. We do finally get a bit of sense of Dothraki culture her, just a bit. And the final scene with Viserys is touching and very well played.

The next episode, 7 is available a week early on hbogo! So my review here.

Reviews of previous episodes: [ Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4, Episode 5 ]

And here for my review of Episode 7.

Or find out about my own fantasy novel, The Darkening Dream.

Game of Thrones – Episode 5

Title: Game of Thrones

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Watched: Episode 5 – May 15, 2011

Status: First Season now airing on HBO

Summary: Best episode yet for sure!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Episode 5,  “The Wolf and the Lion.” This is where four episodes of character development pay off. This week the writers deliberately narrow the focus of the story into the core conflict, like waters passing through a canyon, to build the pressure into a torrent.

Almost all of the story takes place in King’s Landing. With two brief scenes back in Winterfell and a number with Cat and Tyrion playing bass to the boiling over of the Stark vs. Lannister feud Ned plays on guitar. The Jon and Dany threads are given a breather (Dany will be back next episode big time). We also have an episode full of action, punctuated by a number of brilliant scenes not in the novels that develop the character relationships in a way needed by television as it lacks the interior monologue the novel’s multiple view points allow.

And there are some really kick ass scenes. Pretty much all of them.

We begin with the every amusing Mark Addy as King Robert where he taunts his squire and fails to even squeeze into his armor. He’s just so deliciously boorish. Then we role into the tournament and a face off between the Mountain and the Knight of (the) Flowers. As if a joust isn’t cool enough, the shows off the character of that lovely pair of brothers Clegane. Sandor is a big man, towering over ser Loras, but the Mountain is something else all together and his enormous broadsword just awesome. What he does with it too. Sad but good. But I loved most when he storms off through the crowd, a full two feet taller than most.

The Cat/Tryrion scenes on the road might have been a little better, although I did enjoying seeing Tyrion’s “low blow” style of fighting, and his one liners are great. But when they get to the Eerie it’s a pretty amazing, if slightly Middle Earthy place. The sky cells are cool, although not as cramped as I imagined. They also skipped the mule and basket ascent, which is a part of the books I enjoyed. But Lysa and her son are every bit as creepy/crazy as they should be. The eight year-old nursing is tres HBO, but it tells all in very short order.

We have a lot of Littlefinger and Varys intrigue in this episode, and I suspect new readers will have no clue about the motivations of either — which are still fairly opaque to me even having read the books twice! But their conversation together is pure delight. I am very much enjoying both actors and their casting couldn’t have been better. Arya is cute as always too in her little scenes, and we do get to see the dragon skulls (very briefly) that were foreshadowed in Episode 4.

The plot pivots on the council scene when Ned opposes the plan to murder Dany and breaks with Robert — and it’s fine — but it’s merely good lost among great scenes. However, it — along with Cat’s actions — forces things in the perilous direction where they need to go.

Another of the “new” scenes (not in the book) is one between Loras and Renly. The hinted homosexuality between the two in the books is raised (hehe) to highly explicit. Although the lip smacking sounds were too much even for me.  The scene is good character development too, setting Renly up for season 2, but it also has a subtle tension owing purely from the device of having Loras shave Renly (all over) during the entire conversation using a straight razor.

Then the show’s best scene to date, another new one, between Robert and Cersei. This is a fantastic stuff, making both characters more sympathetic, even though they’re brute and bitch alike. Their dysfunctional relationship has come so far that they are able to have this moment of truth like a calm before the storm.

Then, after being manipulated or stalled or helped by Littlefinger, Ned has his run in with Jaime. Leading to an awesome duel, some sad happenings, and the cliffhanger ending.

This is clearly the episode where the new viewers start to see to what drastic lengths George R. R. Martin is willing to go to make his characters miserable and his readers ecstatic. Next episode should double down — and as a special bonus next week as episode 6 airs, episode 7 is going to be available on hbogo.com simultaneously.

Reviews of previous episodes: [ Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3, Episode 4 ]

And the following Episode 6.

Click here for some trailers for and about the series.

Or find out about my own fantasy novel, The Darkening Dream.