Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("What is Dead May Never Die")

by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

read my review of Episode 1, "the north remembers " - here.
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.

though it took longer than expected, hbo has finally renewed game of thrones for a third season. it's not surprising as the show's ratings have skyrocketed this year. rumor has it that the 3rd book will be separated into 2 seasons, which means that this could end up being the longest show in hbo history when all is said and done.

this episode was still a lot more set up (still getting introduced to new characters), but things are starting to change in some corners. first janos slynt and now maester pycelle have becomes victims of tyrion's rampage. arya's journey back to winterfell has hit a detour and we lost one of the "good guys" in yoren. just because not much else has changed, it doesn't mean everyone's stopped playing the game. let's check in on our cast of characters this week...

the lannisters
no jamie or joffrey in this episode again, which is fine with me because tyrion and cersei are doing a great job as competing power brokers in the capitol, king's landing. tyrion, after last week sending city watch commander, lord janos slynt, to the wall, this week sent grand maester pycelle to the dungeons, after discovering that he is cersei's informant and overall turncoat. in the aftermath of the great scene where tyrion plants different rumors with pycelle, varys and petyr baelish, we can see hints that petyr isn't so happy not being able to trust tyrion. varys, on the other hand, just helped shae get a job as a handmaiden to sansa (more on that later) and is becoming chummy with tyrion. last week, they threw veil threats at each other and this week, varys gives tyrion a little lesson in power - hint, the one with the sword lives (this is my take and i think other reviews have failed to point this out - in the riddle varys tells tyrion, no matter whether the king, priest or rich man lives, so does the sell sword). in tyrion's 2nd talk with petyr baelish, we hear about harrenhall. if you recall, at the end of last season, tywin lannister says they are heading to harrenhall. this week, we hear it's a haunted castle and also learn that that's where arya and gendry are heading as captives. also mentioned, is the land of dorne, which is where all the fine dornish wine comes from. it's on the southern end of the continent and can't wait to see it in the opening sequence.

cersei has been the best character this season in my opinion. she's struggling to find real power and almost throws tantrums when power is taken from her, especially since it's always men (usually incapable) taking it from her - king robert, her father, tyrion and her son joffrey. when she hears that her daughter myrcella will be wed to a dornish prince, she loses it. no matter what else, she's a loving mother. in a great scene (they were all great really) at the dinner table, you almost caught a glimpse of empathy from cersei when looking upon sansa. cersei has played her role as a subservient woman her entire life and now sansa must play that same role with her son. the scene was also a nice one for myrcella and tommen, who both seem quite nice unlike their older brother joffrey.

the starks
no robb this week. just to wrap up on sansa, she had a good character development week ending with her scene with shae as her new handmaiden. a little of the old sansa, barking orders and being ladylike, came out for a few minutes until she realized that she needed some non-lannister human interaction.

arya's camping out on the king's road on the way north to the wall when a host of lannister men come looking for gendry. yoren still isn't having any of it and puts up a decent fight until the mountain (gregor clegane, the hound's older brother who chopped off a horse's head in season 1) sticks a broad sword down into his neck. before arya, gendry and the rest are captured, at least arya let the 3 men out of their mobile prison. that was nice of her. maybe that will play a role later on. who knows. anything's possible.

jon snow is young and full of potential which has to be the only reason lord commander mormont puts up with his shenanigans. after craster puts a beating on snow for spying on him, he kicks out the night's watch. snow apologizes to commander mormont and tells him about the white walker he saw. mormont says he'll probably see more. i hope so. snow's storyline was the weakest of the night. sam and gilly were cute though.

i'm going to start saying that we got no rickon either each week. not a surprise. anyway, we got some more wolf dreaming with bran this week. maester luwin had a very warm moment with bran - luwin might be the nicest and most earnest person in westeros. no wonder the starks all turned out like good people unlike the lannisters who had maester pycelle in their employ.

the baratheons
we finally got renly but no stannis this week. davos, i missed you buddy. renly is currently camped out somewhere with his 100,000 men enjoying himself as the rest of the country is at war. renly plays the kingly role very well and the people do seem to hold him in high esteem. especially brienne of tarth, the very tall woman who defeated sir loras tyrell, knight of flowers, king lover, in a tournament. as her reward, she is accepted as one of renly's kingsguard, 7 knights sworn to protect the king (jamie lannister is a kingsguard knight as well and is known as the kingslayer for killing the mad king aerys after swearing to protect him). brienne is a fan favorite and i definitely agree with that sentiment. i can't wait to see her more this season.

we also got introduced to margaery tyrell, king renly's new wife and sir loras' sister. i'm not a fan of natalie dormer, who plays margaery and played anne boleyn on showtime's 'the tudors' - so i really didn't like her portrayal of the queen this week, but i liked how up front her character is with renly's sexual orientation. she's another strong female character and what's great is how effective and strong each woman can be using different styles.

the targaryens
no dragons this week. :(

the greyjoys
the greyjoy storyline really emphasizes the theme of loyalty. i know most of the reviews focus on the themes of power and that's surely a strong theme, but i'm more drawn to the idea of loyalty and family. each family interprets the moral codes differently, but they all share common traits, loyalty to one's family being one of them. the lannister children want to please their father as much as the stark children want to avenge theirs. theon greyjoy resents his father, yet the more his father shuns him, the more theon craves his approval. theon has really turned into one of the most watchable characters as his character's background in season 1 has really set up his conflicting emotional loyalties. i think the scene where he burns the letter to robb warning him of a sneak attack, was cheesy but it worked because the writers have really done a great job with theon. as he was getting baptised (sort of) by the priest of the drowned god, you could tell that there was never really a choice to be made between the starks and greyjoys (not that it was an easy choice, but just that, in the end, this was the only one he could have made). in general, the writers have also done a great job communicating the harsh, unrelenting ways of the iron islands (greyjoys) in such a short window - their family motto is "we do not sow"


now that i'm thinking of it, why did they show dragonstone in the opening sequence if there was no stannis? renly baratheon is in the storm lands which is different. not a big deal.

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at, or just write something in the comments section below.

no hyperbole allowed rating: A
almost every scene was incredible to watch. you can feel the tensions rising and although we had a little fight sequence, nothing that ridiculous has happened yet. yet is the operable word though.

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