S1E08: My general problem with Game of Thrones that I didn’t really imagine I’d have is its production values. Or rather, the production values of any fantasy series. Now, to be fair, GoT looks wonderful but there have just been certain things that pop up that really take me out of a series I generally enjoy being in. I never really thought this would happen since the books read like something that's relatively easy to film, unlike LoTR and its walking, talking trees.
My complaint is regarding the opening scene with Arya and her swordmaster. Now this scene takes place in the books exactly as it was filmed: some knights come up to take her away and the sword dancer defeats most of them with his wooden sword. But when it was filmed it looked rather silly because they fought like a typical televised sword fight: a General swipe across the chest or a quick thwack and the bad guy goes down. However, this guy had a wooden sword and since sword fights on TV are never real the whole thing just took me out of it by exposing the magic of TV making.
But then again, GoT usually avoids most combat scenes like this in favor of extreme close ups of blood spurting out or horses losing their heads. So my point is mute.
Anyway, Arya is able to outwit her captives thanks to the head start she was given and she scampers off with Needle. But not before some stable boy tries to stop her and she uses the pointy end for it’s intended purposes. GoT really focuses on the loss of innocence in children, whether it be murdering a fellow child or selling your soul in a futile attempt to save your enslaved father, like Sansa did. Oh Sansa, you poor poor girl. I know she was only trying to save her and her father’s skin by doing as Cersei suggested (read: commanded), but grow some balls.
Then again, Ned’s honorable balls are what got him locked up in the first place. In his only scene of the episode, Varys comes to pay him a visit and remind him that his “mercy” is the thing that got him locked up and Robert murdered. Not exactly the most pleasant visit of all time. Varys is such an intriguing character; his true motivations are never exactly clear. And to be honest, I can’t quite believe him when he says his true master is the Realm. It could be, but what does he think is best for the Realm? He’s a true Trickster by definition and it’ll be interesting to see what side (or sides, for that matter) he chooses.
"Tell Lord Tywin winter is coming for him. 20,000 Northerners marching south to find out if he really does shit gold." - Robb Stark
Meanwhile, up on the Wall we finally get something that makes this show a fantasy series and not a soap opera in chain mail. The Watch finds some former rangers dead but good old fat Sam (groan) notices they don’t stink. They don’t stink because they’re not alive and eventually wake up. Whoops, zombie attaaaack! Luckily Jon is there to grab a flaming lantern (because looking and reaching for the handle would’ve taken literally all of no time at all) and burns the dead dude. Smart thinking Jon! No wonder he’s a bastard.
Anyway, jump across the sea and Daenerys discovers that her plan to conquer Westeros costs money and Drogo’s way of making money is pillage and rape. Well, he doesn’t make any money off the raping, but his men like it. But Daenerys grows some big lady balls and stops the abuse. The soldiers didn’t appreciate not being able to appreciate the spoils of war and take their complaints to Drogo. He scolds Daenerys, but again, she has lady balls and defends herself. Ned could take a lesson from her. This is how you defend your honor: have a big ass dude rip the throat out of your enemies when he tries to do some raping. That’s how you do it. So to review: rape even though the queen says not to = throat ripped out. Got it?
Glad we got that cleared up. Speaking of teenagers thrust unwillingly into positions of power but still managing to hold their own, Robb Stark! (I actually just made that connection between Robb and Daenerys, not being too far ahead in the books from the show I can’t say if something happens between them but the parallels are too obvious). Robb’s being all kingy and calls his bannermen, but they don’t exactly like taking orders from a boy so they challenge him; a basic hazing if you will. Robb passes with flying colors when his direwolf leaps over the table and bites off the challengers fingers. Everyone is silent but then burst out in laughing because that’s what men do when fingers get chomped off at dinner. Once he has the men's trust Robb starts planning a war. A Lannister spy gets caught but Robb lets him go, basically saying “Tell the Lannisters we’re coming for them, yo!” I may be paraphrasing there.
Speaking of the imminent war - Tyrion Lannister! Oh how we missed Tyrion! The little devil manages to sweet talk his way out of another situation, this time from the hands of the mountain men. He rallies them to join the Lannister's and brings them to his father’s camp. I’m surprised more people don’t recognize the power Tyrion has with his words but then again, that’s what makes him so cunning. No one expects the imp. But Tyrion doesn’t exactly like his father, and despite delivering him a veritable force of fighting mountain men, the elder Lannister still sends his brilliant son to war with them. Methinks overlooking Tyrion will be the downfall of many men soon enough.
Despite my initial misgivings about the show’s few shortcomings, the stories are still rich enough to keep me watching week after week. Fake sword fights be damned, I still want to see what will happen with Tyrion and Daenerys, who are safe to say the most interesting characters. Second place would probably go to Robb and Arya. I would say Ned, but as we saw at the end of the episode, he’s about to have a trial and yeah, things aren’t exactly looking great for him. You know what else wasn’t looking good this week? No gratuitous sex scenes!