Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Game of Thrones 2.6: The Old Gods and the New

Joffrey Gets Slapped

I forgot how much I loved the episode “The Old Gods and the New” until I rewatched it. This episode has everything: sex, violence, town riots, blooming romance, and the kidnapping of dragons. The episode first starts off with Theon capturing Winterfell. I realize that Theon has some major father issues going on with Lord Greyjoy handing Theon’s inheritance over to his sister, Yara; however, I still do not know why he thought he could impress his father by capturing a castle where all of the able bodied men are off at war and the lord is a crippled child. The way Theon storms into Bran’s room declaring that he captured the castle, I almost expected Bran to reply, “Am I supposed to be impressed by that.” Theon further acts like a petulant child when he succumbs to pressure from his men to kill Ser Rodrik Cassel for spitting at him. I will say that Game of Thrones is not afraid to showcase the horror of certain acts of violence. Beheading has always been a type of execution depicted in films and television that deal with ancient or medieval times; however, often the violence takes place off screen. For example, in the new series Vikings on The History Channel, the viewer only sees the ax swing down and reemerge with blood when a character is beheaded. This show, however, is on basic cable so certain rules do govern what can be depicted onscreen. The Tudors, however, is on Showtime, another premium cable channel, and they shy away from close up enactments of this form of execution. The various beheadings ordered by Henry VIII are in long shot with the victims barely visible or the action takes place off screen. I don’t know if I prefer Game of Thrones showing in vivid detail the execution of Rodrik Cassel. It did, however, allow me to see that at times beheading is not always a swift death but could be painful and excruciating if the executioner is a novice and does not know how to wield a sword or an ax. 

The drama at Winterfell continues when Osha played by Natalia Tena offers her loyalty to Theon. Bran is flabbergasted by her decision to switch loyalty but little does he know that she has a plan. In a brilliant display of how easily a woman in this show can corrupt a man with her sexuality, Osha seduces Theon causing him to let down his guard. I know that since this is Game of Thrones nudity and sex are to be expected; however, before Natalia Tena’s role as Osha on this series her most notable character was Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter franchise. It just seemed wrong to see a Tonks stripping for Theon and have a full frontal nudity shot. I know this is a different role, but this just illustrates that once you are part of a popular film franchise, your character will follow you forever. Despite feeling a bit uneasy seeing the X-rated Tonks, Osha’s plan works allowing Theon to pass out and the two young Stark boys to escape Winterfell.
Relive the brilliant scene by clicking on the picture

The highlight of this episode had to be the story in King’s Landing. Tyrion sends Cersei’s daughter away to be raised. Returning to the castle, Joffrey and the rest of the royal entourage get heckled by the crowd, and Joffrey gets hit in the face with a cow pie. Being the pestilent child that he is, he orders that the hurler of the poo be killed. The crowd quickly erupts into a riot. I love this scene for it is the first time that Joffrey realizes just because you call yourself king, does not mean you have power. If your people do not follow and obey you, your title means nothing. The look of horror in his eyes when he realizes that his screaming and threats will not make a mass crowd obey him, gave me pleasure and I hoped that he would get captured by the crowd. There was an odd seen, however, in the crowd chaos straight out of The Walking Dead. The crowd descends upon the priest who officiates Cersei’s daughter’s voyage and literally rips his limbs off. I almost expected Rick or Darryl to jump out from behind a corner and start plunging arrows and knives into people’s heads. The best part of this episode, however, had to be Peter Dinklage who portrays Tyrion Lannister, and his scene with Joffrey when they finally make it back to the safety of the castle. His line, “We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot boy king!” This line has to be the top quote from the season. Finally, there is a Lannister who has the balls to stand up to this boy. To add a cherry on top, Tyrion slaps Joffrey across the face. If this episode had been played in a movie theater with hundreds of people, it is this scene that would have caused the audience to erupt into cheers and applause. 

Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch continue their journey behind the wall. I will say, as I watched these scenes, and hear the dialogue discussing the hatred for the Wildlings, I do not really understand why they are such a feared enemy. They stay behind The Wall and reside in the baron tundra where no one really wants to live. Having not read the entire book series, I do not know if this topic is covered more thoroughly. The show, however, does not do a good enough job describing why the Night’s Watch needs to invade their territory and destroy these people. Also I understand that when you join the Night’s Watch, you take the black and that is all you are allowed to wear for the rest of your life. What I don’t understand is if you are supposed to protect and defend an area that is covered in snow, and expected to fight in the snow, why would you choose the most contrasting color to the surroundings of your battle ground making hiding all but impossible? Besides that, Jon meets Wildling woman, Ygritte played by Rose Leslie (the second actor from Downton Abbey to join Game of Thrones. Iain Glen plays Ser Jorah Mormant and portrayed Sir Richard Carlisle in Downton Abbey). Jon’s good heart almost gets the best of him when he refuses to kill Ygritte. She runs away, and in capturing her, Jon loses the rest of his brothers. Now he and Ygritte have to survive the cold terrain as they try to find the other members of the Night’s Watch. I would say that if it was not for the swords, White Walkers, and looming death, this could be a romantic comedy in the making.

These are the main plot points of the episodes, but other characters also make an appearance. Robb does have a romantic comedy moment himself when he sheepishly tries to ask Lady Talisa Maegyr out on a “date.” It is nice to see that even kings get nervous. Arya continues to impress Lord Tywin and it seems like he almost has an affection for her. She has a moment of panic when Lord Baelish comes to talk with Lord Tywin. Baelish seems to think that Arya looks familiar. Whether he recognizes her or not remains to be seen. Perhaps his supposed love of Catelyn will prevent him from blowing Arya’s cover if he does figure out her true identity. Finally, Daenerys strikes out finding someone to give her ships, but she does manage to constantly yell that she is the mother of dragons and those who offend and violate her wishes will eventually pay when her dragons are grown and she finds an army. Defeated, she returns to Xaro’s home to find her men slaughtered and her dragons missing. It seems that the dragon-napper is taking her children to the House of Shadows. We might eventually get to see the horrors that reside in there. 

Overall an entertaining episode. I could watch Joffrey being slapped over and over again. Three more weeks until the season 3 premiere! Check out the awesome trailer right here!