Game of Thrones S2E4 Review
|REVIEWS - TV|
More character reveals, but where is Jaime Lannister?...
"Garden of Bones"
Last week I watched Game of Thrones, wrote up a review that was essentially middling in it’s praise at best and proceeded to watch an episode of Mad Men that was (although perhaps an unfair comparison) vastly more entertaining, engaging and memorable.
That didn’t happen this week.
Game of Thrones came back with a bite. This was another busy episode but unlike the bulk of the season so far where characters have been introduced, this was more about pay off and making good on the build-up.
Joffrey continues to do as he wants, and, despite his efforts to calm him, Tyrion seems powerless to tame his nephew, even going as far as to send him a pair of whores in an effort to “release his poison”. Unfortunately for the whores, Joffrey gets his rocks off in a different way altogether. If ever there were an anti-incest campaign, Joffrey is it - Jaime’s spawn has proven to be one sick puppy.
In Harrenhal - nice to see it added to the ever-growing map – Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are subjected to a regime of fear and torture governed by Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane and his cronies, including the infamous Tickler and Polliver. The reappearance of ‘The Mountain’ has me deeply confused though - everyone was under the impression he had been recast (as mentioned in last week’s review), but apparently not so. Seems the writers simply did a very bad job of introducing Polliver, leading lots of us to assume he was the actor’s replacement. Mercifully, not so.
It was one of the highlights of the episode to see Tywin arriving just in time to stop the Tickler from murdering Gendry with a rat. Charles Dance owns Tywin and commands the screen every time he appears – he is one of the absolutely pitch-perfect actors on the show and to see his name now added to the main credits fills me with childlike glee. Harrenhal itself was suitably grim, ruined and bleak, though I hope we get to see more of the keep itself in the weeks to come – Tywin selecting Arya as his new cupbearer - oh the irony - is a marvellous bit of alteration from the books and I’m looking forward to their scenes together a great deal.
Dany - hold your breath - not only appeared this week but actually did something! Yes! Well, in fairness she stood outside Qarth and protested prettily, I damn near expected her to once again promise “FIRE. AND BLOOD!” (seriously, it’s getting old) against The Thirteen, but Xaro Xhoan Daxos stepped in and saved us from having to hear what’s beginning to sound like the revenge-oaths of a bitter ex-girlfriend. Perhaps it’s the directors insisting on passion, but honestly, Dany’s yelling and lip-curling is making her look pathetic, not intimidating. She’s supposed to be the Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt, a Targaryen and Blood of the Dragon, not an impression of Bella from Twilight. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak softly, carry a big stick”. Or dragon.
Our brief time with Robb introduced us to two fairly crucial characters, though it would be fair to say the show put a lot more emphasis on the wrong one. Deviating from the books somewhat, Robb seems smitten with a young woman who happens to be a Lannister supporter and an amateur apothecary or wannabe measter. If this girl turns out to be Jeyne Westerling like in the novels, I’ll be somewhat surprised - certainly her giving the name of “Melissa” doesn’t mean a thing, but this seems to be going in a direction a bit different from the books.
Back to the other new character - Roose Bolton. Considering how extremely important Roose Bolton becomes later throughout the series, it was a little surprising to see him thrown in as almost just another face. Hopefully throughout the season his screen time will be increased, as he is integral to Robb’s story. Michael McElhatton isn’t John Malkovich (in an ideal world, eh) but he does certainly fit the part well. More please.
The scene between Renly, Stannis, Melisandre, and Catelyn was certainly one of the best visually. Set on a cliff edge, it was almost precisely how I’d pictured it...albeit absent of one key feature - Renly’s peach. It’s a small thing, but it so clearly comes to represent Renly’s arrogance and Stannis’ regret in the books that it’s a real shame the writer’s didn’t keep it in. Stephen Dillane is beginning to step into Stannis’ shoes a little more week by week, but I’m still waiting to see him grind his teeth and the strain of his jaw.
And then there’s the shadow...
Well. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how fans react to this. Game of Thrones has done a good job establishing itself as a hard fantasy - along with the introduction of dragons last season, this stands as one of the key moments where magic is proven to be still very much in evidence, despite the gritty feel of the show. From the perspective of a book fan, it was a little more conventional than I’d expected – I never really imagined the shadow having a humanoid or even physical form, but I’m interested to see where they go with it. Davos and Melisandre’s conversation about shadows and light was well written, too, most of it taken from the books.
I’m beginning to seriously pine for Jaime Lannister. I hope he’s back next week. As for Tyrion….ah hell, Tyrion is awesome, what more needs to be said? Bronn once again secured the line of the week in reference to the king - “There’s no cure for being a c**t”.
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