Game of thrones s2e9 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
The Battle for King's Landing is decided, for now...
As much as I often nitpick about the differences between the novels and the TV show, I do recognise that ultimately this is an adaptation and not a visualisation of those novels. Some things about the battle of the Blackwater were different, but they are small things, niggling things, things of little real consequence. All in all, I feel it is fair to say HBO did a top job with this episode, and that’s almost certainly in no small part to the fact that novel writer George R R Martin penned this episode’s script himself, and we had Neil Marshal directing.
From Bronn and Sandor’s pissing-contest right through to Tywin walking in and claiming victory, this episode was masterful and delivered in all areas – writing, acting, action, effects, editing and directing. There are few movies, let alone TV shows, that would so readily and unflinchingly show the realities of injuries and butchering in battle, and here Game of Thrones stands on top of a mountain, alone. Watching the Hound cleave through Stannis’ men, getting to see their bodies literally split in two, torsos ripped apart like paper - it was satisfyingly graphic and gory. Highlights included seeing one man’s head meeting a rock, Tyrion hacking off a man’s leg, Stannis slicing off half a man’s head and perhaps best of all Tyrion’s scar at the hand of Ser Mandon Moore.
The wildfire was also brilliant, delivering the appropriate level of destruction and carnage. The green mushroom cloud, the way that ships seemed to collapsed in upon themselves, the Hound’s reaction…it was all perfect and the use of slow motion never felt cheesy or out of place, something few television shows can pull off.
There were so many awesome character moments in this episode; Stannis leading his army onto the bay, Sansa calming an entire room with a few well-chosen words, Bronn and The Hound squaring off, The Hound and Sansa’s exchange in her room, and perhaps best of all Tyrion’s speech, which included “Those are brave men. Let’s go kill them,” one of his best lines in the novels. And how fucking cool is Bronn? Jerome Flynn has taken Bronn’s character and made it his own – and who knew he was a Legolas with a bow?
The decision to keep this episode entirely within King’s Landing was a stroke of genius and HBO should be credited for taking this risk, along with Neil Marshal’s superb direction and Martin’s seminal writing. My only grumble (and it’s a small one) about the whole episode is that Cersei’s whining, though well acted by Lena Headey, doesn’t quite ring true to me. I can’t criticise Martin’s writing for that, more the fact that as a whole in the TV show, Cersei’s character is not the same as it is in the novels and that’s down to the executive producers.
The really sad thing about this is, in the previews of next week’s episode it’s already obvious that Tywin is being hailed as the savour of the city, while Tyrion gets zero recognition despite the Lannister men calling out “Halfman!” near the end of the battle. Of all the people in King’s Landing, Varys is the only one to recognise just how much Tyrion had done to defend it. Just to reiterate, I really thought the way they handled the cut and scar on Tyrion’s face was superb.
I LOVED the inclusion of The Rains of Castamere, both at the start and end of the episode, though I wish there had been just a little explanation as to the significance of the song, as I’m sure audiences who haven’t read the books will be more than a little confused by it’s presence. If you’re wondering, it goes back to a dispute between House Lannister and House Reyne, whose sigil was also a lion, albeit a silver one. They rebelled against House Lannister, believing themselves to be equal in strength, and while Lord Tytos Lannister did little to fight the rebellion, his then-young son Tywin cut them to bloody pieces. The song has since become an anthem of sorts of the Lannisers, particularly Tywin – it’s their way of saying “don’t fuck with us”.
There were so many superb lines in this episode it’s hard to single out one, but a great deal of them belonged to the Hound. I think the stand-out has to be “any man has a clean sword, I’ll rape his fucking corpse” though.
This was hands down the best episode of the series so far. Yeah, I’m a gushing fan boy once more.
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