Game of Thrones S1E3 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
We're a bit late with this, but no less enthusiastic...
Now that Game of Thrones has done its breakneck speed job of introducing all of its key characters and moving them along to their respective storylines, things are finally slowing down to a manageable pace and result in what may be the best episode so far.
Finally arriving at King’s Landing, Ned is quickly and relentlessly introduced to court life and discovers just how poorly the realm has been managed in the seventeen years since Robert took over the iron throne. It becomes obvious in short time that Ned is a fish out of water, or perhaps more appropriately, a wolf among lions.
Ned’s first interaction in King’s Landing begins with Jaime, who is firmly established as the Kingslayer this episode; the man who betrayed and murdered the Aerys Targaryen, the King prior to Robert’s uprising. Indeed, as if to iron home this fact, later there is a scene in which Robert commands Jaime to recall the event. It’s interesting to note that both Ned and Robert make no attempt to hide their disdain for Jaime, the man who single-handedly gave them the end to the rebellion they were fighting, and continuously insult him as a traitor. In fact, where you might think Ned would be grateful to Jaime for avenging his father and brother’s deaths as Aerys’ hands, but the opposite couldn’t be more true. The entire realm was ready to kill Aerys Targaryen , but when it was done by Jaime, a man sworn to protect him until death, Jaime was branded a traitor rather than a hero. It’s one of Game of Thrones’ beautiful ironies that shows just how complex the world of the Seven Kingdoms is.
We’re also introduced to several key characters on the King’s Council including Varys, Grand Maester Pycelle, Renly Baratheon (the King’s brother) and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. Each of these have plots and schemes of their own in play, and it’s immediately pressed upon Ned how untrustworthy each on of them is. The King’s Council is a group whose significance will only continue to grow throughout the series, and the casting choices are something of a mixed bag. Aiden Gillen excels as Littlefinger, though one wonders if Alan Cumming would have been approached for this role had he not already been engaged on The Good Wife. Conversely, Gethin Anthony as Renly Baratheon feels somewhat miscast, as yet lacking the arrogance and certainty of youth that so defines his character.
There are a couple of intriguing scenes absent from the books this episode, one between Cersei and her firstborn Joffrey being one of the more memorable as she teaches her son the practicalities of politics. The scene’s reason for being there is to show Joffrey’s petulance and potential plans against the North, but it is Cersei who we get a true insight into, swatting away his fancies with a deft hand and showing us a glimpse of her own politically ambitious mind.
The Stark sisters continue to be the ying and yang of the show: Sansa as the selfish, stuck-up snot who can’t even bring herself to thank her father for a gift, while Arya steals every moment she’s on the screen with her tomboy shenanigans and low tolerance for pretty, ladylike things, more interested in fighting. Where Ned fails to harness one daughter's interest, he succeeds with Arya by arranging her “dance lessons” with Syrio Forel. Certainly different from the books, the Syrio of the television show is a lot more comedic than the book, and a far cry from the disciplined, rigid figure I’d envisioned in my head.
Meanwhile, back on the Wall, Jon continues to find himself surrounded by enemies, an outcast among outcasts. It seems Jon is plagued at Winterfell as not being good enough and at the Wall by being too good – a bastard he may be, but he is still of noble birth. However, it’s Jon’s own arrogance that proves to be his downfall, loudly protesting to Uncle Benjen that he’s better than them, only to be firmly reminded that on the Wall “a man gets what he earns”. Tyrion is given cause for introspection by Benjen, Commander Mormont and Measter Aemon alike as he is repeatedly told about the White Walkers, a myth that he adamantly refuses to believe, but even with his masterful logic and sharp mind, it’s clear to see even Tyrion is beginning to question the word of so many men of the Night’s Watch.
Across the sea, Dany finds herself pregnant and empowered, while Viserys continues to attempt to exert his power of his sister, something he realises is becoming increasingly difficult given her new position as khaleesi. Iain Glen again shines as Ser Jorah Mormont. There wasn’t a great deal of Dany in this episode, but it right in order for the focus to turn to King’s Landing and the political intrigue going on there.
Overall, the slower pace of this episode made for a big improvement, and gave the audience some much needed time to digest the huge feast of information that engulfed them over the first two episodes. Here’s hoping the writers continue with the slow burn for a while before rushing back to the escalation and mayhem.
TAG: Game Of Thrones
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