I love the opening credits, generally speaking. Back
when I knew next to nothing about GoT, and hadn’t read the books yet, and only
decided to check out the first episode on a whim when it premiered because it
was “that thing” that Sean T. Collins kept going on and on about, the credits
sequence was basically what instantly hooked me, thinking “huh, this
is going to be different.” The way it presented the world by being as physically
inverse as it is thematically, the projection of the continents on the inside
of a globe wrapped around the sun-sphere, the way that the clockwork mechanisms
visually propped the cities up, mirroring the political machinations occurring
within them. That said, I was a little disappointed not to see Sunspear in
Dorne. It was great seeing the Dreadfort, but why show that and Pyke if nothing’s
going to happen in those places and we don’t see any of those players in this
episode? With the introduction of Oberyn Martell, I thought Sunspear was a
lock. I also would’ve liked to see these places when it was appropriate, or
look forward to hopefully seeing them in the future: Craster’s Keep, The Fist
of The First Men, Shadow Tower, Highgarden, the Stormlands, and Casterly Rock.
But, I realize the credits have limited run-time and just can’t cram everything in,
as delightful as the prospect might be, though there are some odd inconsistencies with how places are used.
I had to rewind the reforging of Ice in order to
ensure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. How great this was played,
with “The Rains of Castamere” subtly intertwined with the regular Game of
Thrones theme music.
It seems like the consensus is that everyone’s “favorite”
scene was at the inn with The Hound and Arya. I can understand that. By the
end, Arya makes her kills and it’s a good example of how the show manipulates us
and creates a conflicted emotional state. We’re so programmed to respond to
righteous vengeance associated with a protagonist, and those moments for the characters
we like are so few in GoT, that we’re half rooting for Arya, but the other half
is thinking how tragic it is that this little kid is being socialized into
becoming a cold-blooded killer. It was tough for me to reconcile that, and that's what the show excels at.
Laura Hudson made a good point in her write-up
of the ep at Wired, about how there just isn’t the prototypical good guy/bad
guy divide in GoT. It’s been a foundational philosophical tenet of the universe
forever. That binary divide is never suggested because real life isn’t that
simple. Yeah, the show might ask us to believe in dragons, but it also never
asks us to believe that “the good guys” must always prevail. There’s no such
thing. The ostensible "protagonist" is as elusive a concept as the fairy tale notion that they must inevitably "win" in order to complete a storyline. So, characters are not shrouded in that “cloak of the protagonist,” as
she put it. I thought that phrasing was brilliant.
My favorite scene was actually seeing Jon Snow
appear before the council of Janos Slynt, Alliser Thorne, and Maester Aemon.
There’s a significant change in Jon here necessary for the arc of his
character. Leadership is sometimes about thinking outside the box, and breaking
rules if the rules are stupid and need to be changed. Essentially, he’s like,
yeah, I fucked Ygritte, killed Qhorin Halfhand, and we can sit here and debate all of your little rules that I broke, but meanwhile Mance
Rayder is on his way with 100,000 wildlings, giants, Thenns, and who knows what
else, to attack THIS motherfucking castle. Your Move, Night's Watch. It reminds me of how Stannis Baratheon
has a similar thread: Yeah, I got my ass kicked at Blackwater Bay, I’m the
rightful heir of Robert – though nobody seems to care, and we can all get sucked
into this dumb war, but a REAL leader would protect the realm from the REAL threat.
I’m going to act like The King. Fuck It. I’m going to The Wall. Aemon’s line
made me laugh out loud too, was not expecting that deadpan delivery of “I grew up
in King’s Landing.”
It seems like we come in on the tail end of a conversation
between Jon and Sam. He’s obviously learned of Robb’s fate and all that’s
changed since he’s been North of The Wall, yet there’s no overt mention of Sam
having encountered Bran. I understand the utility in getting in and out of
scenes as early and late as possible, but dude, seems like Sam woulda’ been all
Chatty Cathy bursting about Bran, though I’m sure it occurred off screen.
Sophie Turner is an incredible actress. Maybe
the most underrated on the show, and I love what she’s doing with Sansa. She’s probably
where she’d absolutely least like to be, but whether she knows it or not, Sansa
is learning to survive – physically, emotionally, and politically. I’m so taken
with Sean T. Collins’ thought that when it’s all said and done, one day in the
future we might just see Queen Sansa Stark sitting the Iron Throne, and the
last surviving characters could partially comprise her Queensguard and Small
Council. I don’t know how that squares with the R+L=J Theory, or the whole
Three Heads of The Dragon deal, but it’s a great thought nonetheless.
I didn’t mind the actor switch for Daario
Naharis. If nothing else, this guy is way better to look at. The old actor sort
of captured the over-the-top sexual lothario buffoonery that might be more true to the book,
but I couldn’t stand looking at a dude who seemed like he just stepped off a
porn set in San Fernando. At least the new actor, purely physically, looks like
someone Daenerys could plausibly fall for. He’s a man and not a pretty boy. It
just works better for TV. It’s also worth noting that plenty of actor switches
have occurred, from The Mountain, to Tommen, to Beric Dondarrion.
As interesting as they try to make it, and as
terrific as seeing Master Kraznys get his due was (I mean, I’ve probably re-watched
him say “You speak Valyrian?!” and Missandei shoot him THAT LOOK a dozen times
now, I have a huge crush on Nathalie Emmanuel, by the way), and as much as I
love seeing anything with Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy, I’m growing a
little weary of Dany’s trudge from city to city. I understand it’s important
for the development of her character arc, but the march from Qarth to Astapor
to Yunkai to Meereen is becoming just as repetitive and monotonous as it is in
the books. It’s why I had to sometimes fight the urge to tune out the stuff happening
in Essos when reading. It’s interesting to see how they’re continually dealing with that on
I didn’t mind not seeing Theon/Reek in this
episode, because he’s entering a period where he’s less interesting than he was.
Theon’s fall is full of so much sadness and regret that it makes for great
watching, less so the period he’s about to enter. It does make me wonder how
much of the Greyjoy stuff going on back at Pyke at beyond will be eliminated in
the show for the sake of clarity and time constraints.
I found myself kinda’ missing Jojen Reed. Weird. Dude is just a phenomenal young actor, with such intense screen presence.
But, hey, it’s a large cast obviously and you can’t get to everyone in 50 minutes or whatever. It’s also worth pointing out
that there is SO MUCH ground this season has to cover in order to wrap up Book
3 and start to track events in Book 4. By my count, there are like seven MAJOR
things this season has to get to, and I’m fairly certain it’ll start next
episode (I have it mapped out in my head, what a nerd). At that rate, it’s nearly one MAJOR moment per episode. If they do
this right, it’ll make The Red Wedding look tame by comparison.
It was great seeing all of the dissention
occurring within House Lannister. I mean, nobody is getting along. Tywin is so
disappointed with all of his kids for different reasons. Cersei and Jaime are
on the outs. Cersei can’t stand Tyrion. I’m looking forward to a conversation
between Tyrion and Jaime.
Olenna Tyrell is just a delight every time she’s
on screen. Seeing her relationship with Margaery, the intelligence, and care,
and charm of it all, it makes me think that this is an interesting juxtaposition,
the Lannisters and the Tyrells. Both powerful, wealthy, well thought of families
from the West with tons of influence. I wonder if the Tyrells is what rearing
children with love and respect looks like, instead of fear and dominance like
the Lannisters. Margaery and Olenna are like the flipped version of what people
like Tywin and Cersei COULD have been.