Game of thrones S2E3 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
"What Is Dead May Never Die"
"There’s men out there who want to f**k your corpses!”
Well, clearly that’s the line of the week, though the scene between Varys and Tyrion is perhaps the best for overall dialogue. Switching between Tyrion with Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger was brilliantly done thanks to some very smart editing and stands out as the jewel in this episode’s crown. There was a lot of dialogue here taken from the ‘Shadow’ teaser that was released weeks in advance of season two’s premiere, and it’s easy to see why HBO would highlight that particular segment. Varys’ riddle and quips about power demonstrate just how keen a player he is; and when put next to Tyrion, the two of them make for some excellent on-screen chemistry. Last year when writing the episode reviews I said I’d be disappointed if HBO didn’t make Conleth Hill a regular this season – it’s good to see they were smart enough to make the promotion.
While it’s sort of the point that Theon be out of his depth back on the Iron Islands, you definitely get the feeling watching this that Alfie Allen is either being out-acted or he’s been perfectly cast. Perhaps both. His quarrels and laughable attempts at shouting and getting angry with his father and sister come across as petulant, childish and futile. Again, that’s the point, but I feel there’s a certain symmetry there between character and real-life acting ability. It’s as if Allen is standing there shouting “Hey! I’m not just Lily Allen’s brother, okay!?” (Yeah, he is.) Again, could be perfect casting. Or it could be like January Jones – everyone thought she was giving the television performance of a lifetime as Betty Draper until we saw her in X-Men First Class and realised - nope, she just can’t act.
Reuniting with Renly introduced us to Brienne the Beauty, she of the Lurch physique and Tilda Swinton haircut, as well as Renly’s charming trophy wife Margaery Tyrell, played by Natalie Dormer and her breasts. Her willingness to bring in her brother in order to arouse Renly shows just how cleverly she is playing this game and how well aware of her part in it she is. Mercifully, for once the sex and nudity in this episode actually served the plot’s purpose and didn’t feel like a blatant opportunity for HBO to show off the size of their guns. Both of them are played well, though a good deal more insight is given into the mind of Margaery than in the books. Take heart, though, those of who are wondering who is who – with Renly’s people introduced, most of the season two’s new characters introduction are done.
Arya’s screen time was somewhat overshadowed by Yoren getting one hell of an exit. After taking a bolt to the chest, he proceeds to say “I always hated crossbows...take too long to load!” and butchers four Lannister men before being taken down. His monologue about his brother, absent in the books, was a nice bit of depth to his character before his untimely demise. Just when Arya made a friend, she lost him just as quickly...the girl has no luck.
Despite having lost her father, Syrio and now Yoren, she’s still sharp enough to have the sense to save Gendry’s skin by telling the Lannisters they’d already killed him when Gregor Clegane stuck Needle through Lommy’s neck. Which brings me to another point – they’ve recast Gregor Clegane from Conan Stevens, who was goddamn mahoosive, to Ian Whyte, who is, well, not. He might actually be smaller than Sandor Clegane, his character’s brother. Considering that Gregor Clegane is referred to as ‘The Mountain That Rides’, Ian Whyte is something of a step down, at least in terms of physique. He may be a better actor, maybe, but personally I thought they nailed it first time round. I hope this is the only recasting to mar the series.
This week brought us no Dany, no Stannis, no Robb and no Jamie with only a smattering of Jon. Like I said before, the writers are certainly juggling a lot of balls at once and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle things in the coming seasons. Jon’s three minute appearance felt largely shoe-horned in only because of the not-really-cliffhanger last week, and would probably have worked better in next week’s episode. Personally I’m still eagerly awaiting the return of Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, who owns the screen every time he’s on it.
One last thing. I’m unsure as to Gethin Anthony’s sexual orientation, but if he’s heterosexual, I take my hat off to him for giving a believably detached, even repulsed performance while Natalie Dormer stood before him topless. That takes skill.
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