Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Game of Thrones 2.10: Valar Morghulis

Winter is Coming

Well we have finally come to it: the second season finale. I will say as far a television season finales go, this one seems a little more subdued. It does manage to touch on every storyline but there is no giant cliffhanger. It almost seems like this episode serves to provide closure on the current storylines and then gives them a little nudge in the direction they now need to turn. This actually makes sense since the second season is based off of the second book. The way each of the storylines end, you can tell that these are the endings provided by the book, giving the reader closer but also jumpstarting new storylines that will take place in the third book.

The most exciting event that happens in this episode is the return of Khal Drogo. Daenerys travels to the House of the Undying in search of her dragons. This is a magical tower which has no doors but somehow Daenerys is transported inside. As she searches for her dragons, she opens a door which leads her to castle ruins covered in snow. She explores the tundra and happens upon a tent. Inside she finds her love, Khal Drogo with their baby boy. This is a heartfelt scene for you really get to see the love these two share for each other. Drogo also voices the inner thoughts of the viewer as he wonders what their meeting is: a dream, Daenerys’s death, his waiting for Daenerys to join them. Even though Daenerys knows this is black magic and not real, it takes all of her will power to walk away and leave her two greatest loves behind. When she returns to the room with all the doors, she sees her dragons chained. Pyat Pree appears and chains Daenerys up as well. As he gloats that he now has Daenerys Stormborn captive and her dragons will make his powers stronger, Daenerys commands her dragons to fire upon Pyat, and he burns in front of her. She then escapes and exerts her justice on her original betrayer Xaro by locking him in his vault with all of his treasures, which turns out to be empty. Daenerys sacks the city of Qarth for all of its gold and jewels then departs in search of a ship. This is the first city Daenerys has managed to conquer with her dragons and they are still tiny. I can only imagine what destruction she will inflict once the dragons are full grown.

Lord Tywin returns to King’s Landing and is named Hand of the King by Joffrey. Joffrey also decides to take Margaery Tyrell as his queen forsaking Sansa. I will say this is not a smart choice for Margaery and I expect that Natalie Dormer, Margaery’s portrayer, will once again find her head on a chopping block before this show is over. Now that Lord Tywin has returned, Tyrion is stripped of his power and quickly all that he worked to achieve is dismantled. Bronn is no longer the head of the King’s Guard and Tyrion’s accommodations have been significantly downgraded. I understand that Cersei would be quick to jump on Tyrion and destroy him; however, it seems like Tywin is helping with his demise. Tywin asked Tyrion to serve in his place and Tyrion did a good job protecting the city from harm. It makes no sense why Tywin would jump so quickly at hurting his son. There is a sweet moment between Tyrion and Shae. Tyrion actually enjoys King’s Landing and has found his place playing the political game. Tyrion wonders if Shae will flee the city and go someplace safer but she vows to stay and be with him.

The men Robb Stark sent to reclaim Winterfell finally arrive and Theon is forced to finally face the huge mistake he made. Deciding it is too late to turn back, he musters up all of his courage and rally’s his men with a compelling speech. His men, however, already decided to trade Theon for their freedom. It seems like Theon’s life is at an end but it will be interesting to see if he can grovel his way out of this mess. Before surrendering, Theon’s men do manage to burn Winterfell and kill Maester Luwin. Osha then takes Bran and Rickon away from Winterfell to The Wall where they will hopefully be safe.

Those were the big storylines but other things characters also make an appearance. Robb marries Talisa Maegyr so he will now have to face Lord Frey’s wrath once he finds out. Arya decides not to go with Jaqen but he leaves her his calling card in case she ever needs him. Jon Snow finally makes it to The Widlings’ lair and is about to meet their king. Brienne and the Kingslayer continue their journey to King’s Landing. The show ends with Samwell Tarly seeing an army of White Walkers moving as a hoard behind The Wall. I am not quite sure what this means. There are so many other battles going on in this series that the White Walkers seem very periphery and not of importance. They make brief appearances and leave. Perhaps next season since now it is shown that there are thousands of them they will play a bigger part, or maybe once the winter descends upon the land they will begin to wreak havoc.

Season 2 was a good season even though it contained more background and buildup instead of actual action. Season 3 is the season that the creators of the show looked forward to the most when they decided to undertake this project so it should be an intriguing and eventful season.

Game of Thrones 2.9: Blackwater



Well it is finally here. The great battle the rest of the season has been gearing up for has finally arrived and boy is it epic. This episode takes all of the best elements of a medieval action movie and shoves it all into an hour of television. Where to start? The battle itself is magnificent. It has everything we have come to expect from great ancient time action movies such as Gladiator and Braveheart. There are arrows on fire piercing through soldiers’ armors. Rocks thrown from the castle wall smothering people’s heads (actually in one scene you see a soldiers head completely vanish from his body after it is hit by a rock…awesome!). The sword fighting is superb and excellently choreographed. The editing for this episode is also magnificent and keeps the suspense and action going throughout the entire episode. On top of this episode having everything a traditional medieval action movie possesses, it has one thing the others lack…a massive explosion. The blowing up of Stannis’ fleets is awe inspiring and sets the tone for the whole episode. The pyrotechnics are massive and catastrophic. The scale this episode goes to bring the action is something that a multi-million dollar movie would be envious of. 

Besides the stunning fight sequences, the storylines and characters also shine in this episode. Tyrion steps up this episode knowing that his idiot nephew would never be able to lead the attack. He orchestrates the explosion and fires commands from on top the wall. In the beginning of the episode when Tyrion talks to Varys about the forthcoming battle and his squire dresses him in his armor, the viewer almost feels sadden for he sees how small Tyrion is and realizes that he has no battle skills and will most likely die in the next few hours. Since Tyrion is such a loveable character, you really hope he finds a way to persevere. Another awesome Tyrion moment arises when Joffrey like the coward he is, shrinks back into the castle so he will not have to face Stannis’ army. Tyrion sees the men begin to founder when they see their king fleeing the battle. In effort to boost moral, Tyrion gives a heartwarming speech to his men encouraging them not to fight for their king and his kingdoms but for their own city and for the protection of their own city. Tyrion manages to gain the support of the men and leads them into battle. He also has one of the best battle lines in the episode (second only to The Hound which we will cover below). After he successfully leads his men onto the battlefield and stops Stannis’ men from beating down the gate, Tyrion’s men begin to celebrate; however, their celebration is short lived. Tyrion looks to the opposite end of the shore and sees hundreds more of Stannis’ men storming at him, which causes him to spout, “Fuck me.” Though Tyrion does manage to kill some men, he is wounded with a slash to the face and falls to the ground. Just as the viewer thinks this could be the end to one of their favorite characters a surprising development unfolds: Tywin Lannister arrives with reinforcements and manages to defeat Stannis’ men.

As I said above, The Hound has a very interesting episode and his character takes a drastic turn. As part of the King’s Guard and devoted defender of King Joffrey, The Hound leads the men into battle. He has the best battle line of the episode. When he leads the men out of the gate to fight with Stannis’ army he shouts, “Any man who dies with a clean sword, I will rape his fucking corpse.” It is during this battle that The Hound’s kryptonite is revealed: fire. It is obvious from his face that this character is not a fan of fire but the viewer finally sees how far that fear runs. When The Hound is almost attacked by a man on fire, he steps back and surveys his surroundings and sees the little fire pits all around him. He flees to inside the castle. When Joffrey sees he is leaving, he orders him back to the battle. The Hound finally tells off Joffrey and departs leaving Joffrey without his most fierce defender. Clegene’s softer side is revealed when after he departs the battleground he seeks out Sansa and offers to escort her home to Winterfell. I still do not know why she did not take him up on his offer. He obviously does not want to hurt her having saved her from harm countless times before. She could have finally been free from Joffrey.

Even though the battle scenes of this episode were fabulous, I think my favorite moments from “Blackwater” are the ones inside the castle with Cercei. Basically Cercei and the other women lock themselves in a room in the castle to protect them from the battle outside. I think the main reason why these scenes are fabulous is because Cercei is doing exactly what I would be doing in her situation: getting drunk and drunk Cercei is a lot of fun. It is interesting in these scenes to reevaluate some of her dialogue. In a recent Game of Thrones panel discussion conducted by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Lena Headey, Cercei’s portrayer, discusses the relationship between Cercei and Jaime. Headey remarked that she does not believe so much that Cercei is in love with Jaime but that she wants to be Jaime. This answer actually stunned some of her other costars who never really saw the relationship that way; however, in listening to her talk to Sansa in this episode I begin to see how she could come to that conclusion. Cercei discusses how she wishes she was a man and could go out and fight and not be locked up with all of the other helpless women. She also talks about growing up with Jaime and how he got to learn to fight and shoot and was groomed to be Lord of Casterly Rock while she learned to sing and was later “sold” to another man. Drunk Cercei even gets more graphic in her womanly advice to Sansa telling her that a woman’s greatest weapon is between her legs and she should learn to use it well. Basically I hope we get to see more of drunk Cercei in later episodes. 

This episode was a great suspenseful hour of television and well worth the wait. It has action and humor, blood and gore, and an awesome explosion. Now that Stannis has been defeated and Lord Tywin has returned to King’s Landing with Renly’s men it will be interesting to see what the last episode of the season has in store.

Game of Thrones 2.8: The Prince of Winterfell

Forbidden Love

Well all I can say about this episode is boy Arya is one smart girl. After hearing that Lord Tywin is going to march on Robb Stark, Arya seeks out Jaqen H’ghar to cast her last name and have him kill Tywin. Unfortunately, she cannot find Jaqen before Tywin leaves Harrenhal, so Jaqen asks her to choose a different name. Cunningly, Arya names Jaqen as the third man he has to kill. This puts Jaqen in an awkward position and Arya the upperhand in bargaining. In return for unnaming him, Jaqen promises to help Arya and her friends escape. True to his word, at midnight, Arya is able to walk out of Harrenhal untouched and on her own to find her way back to Winterfell. 

Robb Stark has a troublesome day this episode. He finds out that Catelyn let Jaime Lannister escape. Now he faces a disgruntled group of soldiers and a mother who defied him. He places Catelyn under house arrest. Thank god he is not Joffrey because who knows what evil, painful death Joffrey would have thought up if his own mother let a prisoner go. Robb does have a lighter moment in this episode. He continues to court Talisa Maegyr. I do not know what it is about forbidden courtly romance that makes it so appealing and seductive. The great loves of Lancelot and Guinevere and Marc Antony and Cleopatra have become iconic stories of forbidden love and a model for this love story between “spoken for” Robb and Talisa. The flirtation reaches a climax this episode when Robb blurts out  that he does not want to a marry a Frey and in a heated passion, he and Talisa rip off each other’s clothes and go at it on the floor. 

Tyrion also has several interesting encounters this episode. My favorite involves him talking battle strategy with Bronn and Varys. Bronn has to be one of my favorite characters. His one line zingers cause me to chuckle and he is the only one who is a match for Tyrion’s wit. Jerome Flynn, who portrays Bronn, does it brilliantly and showcases his incredible acting range. It is amazing that he can be on two different shows at the same time and convincingly portray and transform into two different characters. This year he starred alongside Matthew Macfadyen in Ripper Street, playing a very shy and conservative police sergeant who has trouble finding love and does not really stand up to authority. At the opposite end of the spectrum, he transforms into Bronn for Game of Thrones, a scoundrel and sellsword who never met a price he didn’t like and has no problem spouting his opinions no matter how highborn the recipient is. In this episode Bronn actually adds human character to the upcoming siege informing Tyrion and Varys that it is not just the battle they need to worry about but the hunger and starvation the people will suffer because of the battle. He opens the door to the possibility that Tyrion will not only be facing a battle outside of the city walls but also inside. 

Tyrion also has a heated exchange with Cersei. This episode it seems Cersei gets the better of Tyrion discovering that he once again has fallen in love with a whore. In exchange for Tyrion not making Joffrey fight in the upcoming battle, Cersei promises not to harm Tyrion’s love. It is to our surprise, however, when Tyrion asks to see his love and make sure Cersei has not already killed her that Cersei produces the wrong prostitute. Now of course Tyrion being too smart to let Cersei know she has captured the wrong whore plays along acting like the woman in the room is the one he adores. Though you know that Shae is still safe, the way Tyrion looks at the prostitute and promises that she will not be harmed seems completely sincere. Tyrion has proven to be a humane man and you know that he will not sacrifice an innocent woman just to get his way. I do not know how Tyrion managed to acquire morals when all of the other Lannisters severely lack them but I am glad because Tyrion is a fun character and I like cheering for him. 

Overall those are the main story points though other storylines briefly make an appearance. Brien is taking the Kingslayer I guess back to King’s Landing. Jon Snow is now a captive of the Wildlings along with another Night’s Watch man. Daenerys convinces Ser Jorah to take her to the House of the Undying so she can retrieve her dragons. Stannis is a day away from King’s Landing and promises Ser Davos the role of the King’s Hand once Stannis regains the Iron Throne. Finally Bran and Rickon are alive and hiding in the crypts of Winterfell right under Theon’s nose. 

The next episode promises to be epic with the battle between Stannis and King’s Landing that the whole season has been gearing up for. Only two episodes left!

Game of Thrones 2.7: A Man Without Honor

 Well you all are in for a treat. With the Season 3 premiere only a week away, I will be posting four new blog posts this week to make sure that I finish up Season 2 before the new episode airs. “A Man Without Honor” covers a lot of story lines and the title seems to characterize the episode well. Each story deals with someone who trys to maintain honor or someone who completely forsakes their honor. Jon Snow is still dragging Ygritte around behind The Wall in search of his fellow Night’s Watch men. Though Snow can battle the most wicked and evil creatures without a flinch, Ygritte stumbles upon the one topic that makes Snow uncomfortable: sex. She continuously taunts him about trying to have sex with her. His uncomfortable responses and his inability to look her in the eye quickly makes Ygritte realize that Snow is still a virgin. She uses this fact to her advantage continuing to distract him with sordid details of what it is like to have carnal knowledge of another. I don’t know why Jon does not realize that during this entire conversation Ygritte is leading him instead of Snow leading her. His distraction allows Ygritte to lead him into a trap and now Snow is surrounded by a pack of Wildlings. Another interesting caveat to their conversation involves the description of life as a Wildling. Taking a break from all of the sex talk, Ygritte sings the praises for why it is better to be a Wildling than a Crow. She remarks that she has freedom to do what she wants when she wants. Snow quickly retorts that the Wildlings also serve a king to which Ygritte replies that their king was chosen by the people. It appears that the Wildlings, though they seem like the most backward of people actually have the most forward thinking allowing the people to choose their leader.
Let's Talk About Sex

Jaime Lannister shares a bit of screen time this episode. Still captured by the Starks, Jaime gets a cell mate, a cousin who he barely knows. A softer side of Jaime begins to appear as he bonds with his younger cousin over his first outing as a squire. It makes Jaime seem human and almost as if he has morals. These feelings quickly dissipate when Jaime kills his cousin in order to orchestrate an escape. He is quickly captured, however, and about to be killed by the crowd when Catelyn intervenes. I know that she wants to keep Jaime alive because Cersei holds her daughters captive but there has to be another way to get the girls back. Nothing good can come from keeping Jaime alive and though I love to look at Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor who portrays Jaime, each week and do not want to see him killed, logically I just do not 
                                                      understand Robb's endgame.

The mystery of who kidnapped Daenerys’ dragons is answered in this episode. It is touching to see Daenerys feel so sadden over the loss of her people. She really does feel responsible for them and is distraught when she fails to protect them. She is definitely the complete opposite of her brother who only wanted power and did not care about the people he would rule. Ser Jorah returns to help Daenerys find her dragons. Their love story continues in a very soap operatic scene where he professes his devotion to her. She pushes Jorah back either because she is not interested but more likely because she feels torn between her devotion to her dead husband and her feelings for Jorah – literally her knight in shining armor. The kidnapper of the dragons is revealed when Xaro calls together a meeting of the 13 and announces that he along with Pyat Pree kidnapped the dragons and put them into the House of the Undying. Pyat Pree then multiplies and kills the rest of the 13 leaving Xaro to be king. I must admit this took me by shock. Though I did not fully trust Xaro, I thought he would be more likely to try to rape Daenerys instead of kidnapping her dragons and killing her people. I am excited that we get to travel into the House of the Undying. I can only imagine what we will find in there. 

Theon continues his little boy tantrum once he figures out that Bran and Rickon escaped with Osha and Hodor. Instead of blaming himself for being distracted by his penis, he blames his own men and berates them. He then vows to find the two little lordlings and kill them. He does manage to track them to a nearby farm where he screams at the top of his lungs (with his voice cracking) that they should all follow him and produce the two runaway princes. No one at the farm knows what he is talking about because Bran has a heart and is smart unlike Theon and refuses to use anyone else in their escape plans, because he knows Theon will torture and hurt those who help them. One of Theon’s men does find walnut shells, an indication that the young lads were there. How he knows that I do not quite understand because other people could be eating walnuts. However, the episode ends with a shocker: Theon produces the bodies of two boys to the people of Winterfell that look to be Bran’s and Rickon’s height and weight, but they are burnt and unrecognizable. Though everyone on the show thinks these are the bodies of the two princes, I am still skeptical. I think the capture scene would have been filmed for the show. I think this is classic misdirection, making the audience think Bran is dead when really he is still on the run.

One last major story involves Cersei and Sansa. I will say in this episode Cersei almost seems human and I began to think that maybe I don’t hate her as much. Sansa “becomes a woman” this episode the one thing she fears most. Now she is able to bear Joffrey’s children. Though she tries to hide it with the help of Shae, Cersei finds out and actually provides comfort and wisdom to Sansa. Cersei also acknowledges that she knows of Joffrey’s faults and that he is not the best husband or companion (unlike Jaime). Though Cersei acting like a mother to Sansa is touching, it is Cersei’s later scene with Tyrion that really made my heart wrench. She finally admits out loud to Tyrion that Jaime is the father of her children and she expresses fear and almost regret wondering if it was because of her incest that Joffrey is cruel and evil. I almost feel bad for Cersei this episode because she loves Joffrey because he is her child but she also knows that he is evil and a bad king and does not know how to handle it. I wonder if in later episodes this problem will come to a head and if she will have to make a decision between taking Joffrey down or supporting his evil ways.

Three more episodes to go in the season! Look for the last blogs of the seasons and remember to watch the premiere next week!