Game of Thrones S1E10 Review
|REVIEWS - TV|
We've hacked, slashed and beheaded our way here, but what of the Game of Thrones finale?...
"Fire and Blood"
SPOILER WARNING - Major spoilers for the entire season. Do not continue unless you've seen the whole season of Game of Thrones
After last week’s divisive episode, it wasn’t a guarantee that most fans would be coming back to Game of Thrones for the season finale. Well, one thing’s for sure: those who don’t return are the ones missing out. The season is over and in some ways it’s been a bumpy ride. Getting started proved to have its difficulties, but once we got to episode five the series really hit its stride and hasn’t slowed since - yet another similarity to fellow HBO masterpiece The Wire.
“Fire and Blood” opens right where “Baelor left off” – in King’s Landing at the Sept of Baelor with Ned Stark sans a head. Yoren emphatically christens Arya a “boy” and gives her a haircut that would make Maester Aemon gape. When next we see her she’s threatening to slice up two boys for trying to steal Needle, only for Gendry to intervene. Those possessed of a good memory will recall Gendry appearing several episodes ago when Ned realised he was Robert’s bastard and had a far greater resemblance to a young Robert than Joffrey ever did. He seems to have caught some of Robert’s temperament too, all sullen anger and nicknamed The Bull. Knowing where Arya’s journey goes next, I’m pretty psyched to see her story develop throughout season two.
The reactions to Ned’s death were well handled by all of the Starks, but Robb’s was probably the most emotional as he blunted his sword in frustration. Again, Richard Madden will have no end of praise from me for the way he’s brought Robb to the screen. Sophie Turner is much improved from the beginning of the series , though in fairness to her it was the writers that butchered Sansa’s character, not Sophie herself. Hopefully now they’ll be as true to the novels with Sansa’s character as they have been with everything else.
"...and the line of the episode, almost always Tyrion’s province, definitely goes to Varys’ “Do you lie awake at night fearing my gash?” If Conleth Hill isn’t a series regular next season I’ll be very disappointed"
Only Catelyn’s reaction felt somewhat muted, but with Robb now officially the King in the North, it seems probable she’s putting on a brave face for everyone else; her scene with Jaime Lannister might be the best of the episode (there are a lot of good moments this week). Immediately Jaime’s bullshit charm defence made me crack a smile and chuckle as he offers Catelyn his “services”. Refusing by way of a rock to the face, Jaime then instructs her on how best to kill him with said rock. Catelyn, in a similar fashion to the way Lord Tywin did a few weeks ago, thinks she has the Kingslayer sussed when she says Jaime wants the world to think he isn’t afraid of death. Jaime adamantly tells her that he isn’t scared of death. This leads to an exchange where Catelyn tells Jaime that the world is full of injustice because of men like him. Jaime, in the way that only he could, tells her “There are no men like me. Only me.” To the untrained ear, it sounds like the arrogance Jaime is famed for, but listen closer and you’ll catch a wistful melancholy behind his words. At this moment in time, Jaime is pretty much a stereotypical villain - watch him close. There are many arcs and character journeys in GOT, but Jaime’s is perhaps the best - you’ll be stunned to see where this character goes. This whole exchange between Cat and Jaime was almost word for word from the books, and it couldn’t have made me any happier to see it there.
Another great scene was the quipping between Varys and Littlefinger. Two characters only ever seen through the eyes of other’s in the books, in the TV show they have come alive in unexpected ways, particularly Varys. Their entire exchange was hilarious, and the line of the episode, almost always Tyrion’s province, definitely goes to Varys’ “Do you lie awake at night fearing my gash?” If Conleth Hill isn’t a series regular next season I’ll be very disappointed.
The scene between Pycelle and Roz stood out like a sore thumb, baffling and inexplicable though amusing. At first I had worries that HBO were just throwing in the seemingly obligatory weekly dosage of tits and arse, but little of the scene was spent ogling and instead the majority was given to Pycelle monologuing and rambling. Seeing him limbering up moments after Roz’s departure and then visibly putting on his stoop before opening his chamber door gives us some indication that Pycelle is not quite the doddering old fool he’d have us believe he is.
"There are a million things to say about this début season of Game of Thrones, and it boggles the mind to think where to start; the cast, the writing, maybe most remarkably the unexpected level of success that the series has achieved "
In an episode so full of interesting developments (certainly one of the best so far) it seems unfair to criticise, but there was a lack of Tyrion tonight that will have left some fans disappointed. Tywin appointing Tyrion as Acting Hand of the King in his stead was the closest these two have ever got to showing familial warmth, but with Tyrion ignoring his father’s orders about bringing Shae to court, one suspects there’ll be hell to pay somewhere down the line.
Jon’s temporary desertion felt a little clean cut and over-simplified. Though born a bastard and determined to be a man of honour and a keeper of oaths, it felt a little hard to believe that he’d return to Castle Black just because some of his friends quoted the vows of the Night’s Watch to him. With his father recently executed and Robb surely in need of him now more than ever, he didn’t seem to wrestle with the guilt of forsaking his family enough to make this decision credible. Nonetheless, next season is full of promise for Lord Snow as the Night’s Watch goes beyond the Wall.
Of all the plot points, Daenerys’ storyline took perhaps the most crucial turn as she became the Mother of Dragons. You didn’t really think those dragon eggs were just there for decoration, did you? One of the more fantasy-esque aspects of GOT has come into play with the introduction of Dany’s dragons, though they have not come without a price. With Khal Drogo dead and his Khalaseer gone, Dany is at a crossroads, having just lost all her warriors only to come into a power no one else possesses. The “birth” of the dragons was the perfect place to end the season, teasing the things to come while wrapping up the season’s events nicely.
There are a million things to say about this début season of Game of Thrones, and it boggles the mind to think where to start; the cast, the writing, maybe most remarkably the unexpected level of success that the series has achieved. It’s won over people who would never have even looked at the books, no matter how well you pitch it (believe me, over the years I’ve done my fair share). The only thing worthwhile that still needs to be said is this, and I’ve said it before: season one is prologue. In season two there are five different factions fighting for supremacy and many of the key players haven’t been introduced yet. This is a story that continues to grow and grow both in scope and in quality. The setup for season two is done. This is where the real Game of Thrones begins.
Game of Thrones returns in Spring 2012. Until then…winter is coming.
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