Wednesday, March 27, 2013

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.