May 23 2011 10:32am

Game of Thrones episode review: “A Golden Crown”

Game of Thrones episode The Golden Crown

This week on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Ned finally makes a connection that was obvious to viewers of this show from the very first episode. Tyrion stands trial and confesses to his crimes in the Eyrie. And across the Narrow Sea, the language barrier between Drogo and Viserys leads the Khal to make a major faux pas.

Keeping up the breakneck pace from last week, “A Golden Crown” was the kind of quality episode one expects when scribe Jane Espenson is listed in the credits. She’s written some of the best episodes of the Whedonverse on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly as well as other geek faves Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13. I had high expectations for this episode based solely on the title and the tight, clever script had lots of excitement, some great character development, and quite a few raunchy chuckles.

We open on Ned, recovering from his leg wound. I was really hoping for a flashback/fever-dream here. Something to show us a bit of his sister’s death, Robert’s Rebellion, etc. But instead, he wakes up to Cersei’s glare. And Robert’s. That little moment of bonding last week was really short-lived. Cersei suddenly seems to care about Tyrion when he’s kidnapped. Even half a Lannister is worth more than three Winterfell men, including poor Jory. And while she’s a total bitch, she does have a point when it comes to who would’ve made a sterner king. And when Robert hits her, she proves she can take a slap better than her little bastard Joffrey.

Yes, finally I can say it. Joffrey is a bastard. The Jon Snow kind of bastard. (Remember him? I’ve been getting my fix of Jon Snow via Twitter since we haven’t been to the Wall in two weeks.) That Joffrey, and his siblings, are bastards was pretty damn obvious to anyone who saw Jaime and Cersei’s twincest in the premiere. The Baratheon seed is strong, says Jon Arryn and his dusty book of genealogy, but Lannister gold is even stronger. I’m not quite sure genetics work this way, but whatever. It’s what Ned needs to realize the heir to the Iron Throne is illegitimate.

Now what Ned does with that knowledge is left for next week, but getting his own children the hell out of dodge is a good first step. I would definitely send Syrio with the girls. Maybe he can smack a little sense into Sansa. Yeah, yeah, she’s thirteen and naive and blah, blah, Hodor. Arya continues to be the mouthpiece of the audience. “Seven Hells,” she says. Word.

But before Ned can deal with the twincest revelation, the Stark-Lannister war escalates. (Or does he suspect Jaime is the father? It could be the half-wit Lancel, for all Ned knows.) For as sadistic as Joffrey is, maybe former-Ser Gregor Clegane is the father. Clegane has gone brigand and is killing and raping all along the riverlands, despite being Cersei’s father’s bannerman. Ned sends a knight, Lord Beric Dondarrion to bring Clegane to justice and demand Tywin Lannister’s return to King’s Landing. I squeed a bit to see him. Too bad we never got to see Dondarrion fight at the tournament. Also of note, sitting between a needling Littlefinger and a grumpy Pycelle at court day after day would drive me to drink, too.

Meanwhile the Lannister accused of starting all of this trouble nearly fell out of his Sky Cell in the Eyrie. I loved his jailer Mord. Mord and Hodor would have some pretty scintillating conversations, I bet.

I confess; even when I was reading the book, I never for a second believed Tyrion was in any danger of getting killed. Even if the descriptions of the Sky Cells gave me vertigo, I was just waiting to see how he’d talk himself out of this situation. Always bet on the Imp. He’d been way too friendly to Bronn on the road to the Eyrie. Dropping promises of gold to a sellsword is enough to bring him to your side. But you get the feeling Bronn actually likes Tyrion, too. Can’t blame him. Tyrion’s “confession” to Lysa Arryn was a real highlight. It reminded me a bit of Chunk in The Goonies. Only really, really nasty. About five different euphemisms for... doing what he did into that turtle stew? Disgusting comedy gold. He forgot “releasing the dragon.”

I was also hoping Bronn would toss Lysa and her little freak out the Moon Door, too, but you can’t have everything. At least we didn’t have to see her prosthetic boob again. Seven Hells.

There’s a few scenes in Winterfell, not amounting to much. But there is some more depth given to Theon. He’s getting a chip on his shoulder about as big as Viserys’. He’s not a Stark, not really a Greyjoy, and now his favorite whore is leaving town on a turnip cart. That was a a cute goodbye, of sorts. In a twisted kind of way.

Finally, across the Narrow Sea, Dany performs a pregnancy ritual that involves eating a raw horse heart. She’s not showing nearly as much as King Robert was last week. I really loved Viserys in this episode. It’s clear that Dany has the true dragon spirit. But now her brother sees it, too. Harry Lloyd really made Viserys much more sympathetic than he was in the books. He’s still twisted and mean, but he’s also pathetic. And now he’s jealous of Dany and knows that he, as the Beggar King, will never have the love and loyalty of any kingdom. But he still demands things he has no right to demand. And flaunts his arrogance. I loved his exchange with Jorah. And Jorah’s continued loyalty to the true Targaryen heir. He’d been begging for Drogo’s kind of crown since the start. And while I cheered at the wicked, heavy thunk his molten head made when it hit the ground, I’ll miss Viserys a little bit because he was always good for instigating trouble.

And that’s all I have to say this week because Time Warner doesn’t have HBO Go service and I could only watch one episode last night. No fair.

Some links of interest:


Share your thoughts below, but please be warned that book spoilers may be discussed. For a true spoiler-free zone, please visit Leigh Butler’s ASoIaF read. (Though the TV show has now outpaced the novel chapters in the Read.)

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is going vegetarian after this episode.

Joseph Kingsmill
1. JFKingsmill16
Where are the Dire wolves? Summer should have been with Bran. Ugh!
Brandon Daggerhart
2. BDaggerhart
Yeah, I've noticed that the show is really not showing the dire wolves as often as then seem to be shown in the books.
Justin Golenbock
3. jgolenbo
@1 and 2 - Didn't notice that but agree 100%. More wolves plz

Have we seen any of the other Baratheon/Lannister brood on screen? I remember Tommen and the little girl whose name i can't remember being sweet and un-Joffrey like...a very nice GRRM touch proving that not even the worst family in the seven kingdoms is ALL evil. Also wondering if we'll ever see little Rickon on screen -- he's been mentioned by name so I'm pretty sure he hasn't been cut from the show.

Missing JSnow too, but from the preview episode for next week it looks like we're itching for some more Wall action soon. The escape of the Wilding thieves added a nice bit of foreshadowing, along with being an entertaining scene for Robb/Theon, who it seems are being set-up for bigger things to come.
4. cranscape
Rickon was there during the Bran/Arya archery scene (sitting on the fence and laughing with the rest of them) as well as when the entire family lined up for presentation to the royal family (next to his mum). So yeah, he is cast and he has been seen and talked about.

The other two Baratheon kids were seen at the breakfast table when Tyrion and Jaime and the adults were talking about Bran possibly surviving as a cripple. Not sure if they were also there during the tourney like they should have been, but yeah, both cast and seen. Both seemed sweet like in the books too. Maybe not as chubby on the part of Tommen.
Justin Golenbock
5. jgolenbo
Thanks @4. Aww, chubby Tommen...kid doesn't stand a chance in that family
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
It did seem to take Ned inordinately long to figure out that Joffrey was no son of Robert. It seemed pretty odd that it took so long for him to figure it out. Is it another indication that brightness isn't his strong point or does he have an overdeveloped sense that the women in ASoIaF aren't going to cheat even though their husbands have no problem doing so?
7. sofrina
myrcella and tommen are present at the tourney. they sit facing joffrey on the level below the king and queen. they're angled so you don't notice them and they have to look over their shoulders to watch the joust.

that hour was awesome from start to finish. i thought the king punched cersei in the face, and she didn't even stumble. she doesn't care about tyrion. it's about respect. tyrion is part of the lannister real estate. you mess with him, you're messing with all of them. the lannisters can't let that slide or everyone else will pile on.

the eyrie is the best comedy club ever. as good as tyrion's jokes (he fed his sister that stew? and i thought "the dreamers" was sick), little robin asking for the end of the story was hilarous. i have to wonder why there are people standing in the middle of the room during a swordfight. they had plenty of time to move to the doors. are they not sending ravens? everyone in winterfell knows about king's landing but no one seems to know where catelyn and tyrion are.

i'm starting to think ned is a fool. why tell his daughters they're going home? why not tell septa to get packing on the q.t. and tell the girls they're going for a country ride or something? he's telling too many people the plan. and what is littlefinger talking about? he was there when jamie called ned out about tyrion's arrest. (are we to believe these guys hauled a bag of fish all the way to the city and no one in that room could smell them?)

i am very confused about jorah's role. he's reporting to illyrio and varys, he swore fealty to viserys, he encourages daenerys. what is his angle? is he trying to support her or see that she is assassinated? poor viserys. how "servant of the bones" was that? i don't buy he melted a gold belt in a stew pot in five minutes...but props to drogo for picking the pot up with his bare hands.

"not today."
8. efrost
Actually, the genetics could very well rule out Robert having a son with blond hair. Blond hair is recessive, with brown being dominant. To have blond hair you must have two recessive genes, one from the father one from the mother. Someone with brown hair could have one dominant and one recessive gene, which is how a brown-haired and blond parent can still have a blond child. If the book proves that all Baratheon's have brown hair through many generations, it's very likely that proves the line is full of two dominant genes, with no recessive. Proves it at least enough to cast suspicion and warrant further investigation.
Sydo Zandstra
9. Fiddler

It did seem to take Ned inordinately long to figure out that Joffrey was no son of Robert. It seemed pretty odd that it took so long for him to figure it out.

And that was only after Sansa argued that Joffrey was not like that 'drunken old King' at all, and that he was a golden haired Lannister, and not a Baratheon. Talk about irony. I'm not sure if it was the same in the book, since I started my reread with SoS.

I have always liked Bronn, btw. Lysa shouting 'You didn't fight with honour!' at Bronn and him replying 'No, but HE did', remembered me of Corwin of Amber's remark after killing that Chaos swordmaster with some trickery (because he was in a hurry): 'These are not the Olympics'...

One of the things that appealed less to me, was Renly's little rant at Robert, concerning 'how to be a real man' (hehe, 'doing the 8'). I can see why they chose to bring his gay relationship with Loras Tyrrel into the open early on, and I think that was a good choice. TV series have another kind of dynamics than books do. I found this scene to be a little stereotyping, and that wasn't really necessary.
10. serious77
I was looking forward to this moment the whole season. It was a true "crowning" acheivement. (hehe) I'll be honest, for a second, I thought that they were going to cut away as soon as the Khal started pouring. Even given the horse-decapitation scene (though, that did give me better hopes that this scene would be included) as they were approaching the moment, I started to worry that they would cut away. Thankfully, they didn't.

@sofrina - I think that it just came down to editing for time. I imagine that the timeframe for the melting was a bit longer, but waiting for the gold to complete would just take too long. I'll just go with saying that that scene was time-lapsed.

@ efrost - Too bad they don't have DNA and blood labs in Westeros. I could see the Jerry Springer episode regarding the Baratheon/Lannister bloodline.
Justin Golenbock
11. jgolenbo
@6 and @9 I think the show could've been more subtle with Joffrey/incest child audience reveal (which was obvious), but I think the intention is to show Ned as too trusting/honorable, vs. too dim. So the kids look like their mother (and by extension, her twin brother), why should a medieval-ish era non-genetic scientist really have any suspicion otherwise? And it's not as if he doesn't have enough else on his plate beyond unravelling Jon Arryn's mystery murder.

The larger point, regarding his plans and decisions, is that he still trusts in Robert even after all he's seen, trust I think most viewers can agree is misplaced...
Rikka Cordin
12. Rikka
And that’s all I have to say this week because Time Warner doesn’t have HBO Go service and I could only watch one episode last night. No fair.

SO TRUE. And I've got no other choice because TW has a monopoly in this place. Boo.

Also. Arya and Servio. So perfect.
Joseph Kingsmill
13. JFKingsmill16
9. Fiddler - I just read that moment yesterday and it happens almost exactly in the book word for word. Only if Sansa would've kept her dumb mouth shut... hehe
Nick Eden
14. NickPheas
Lancel's a bit young to have fathered Joffrey. And neither Clegane seemed all that blonde.
Tricia Irish
15. Tektonica
Loved the hour! It flew by. It was so fun to watch my husband gasp during Viserys crowning moment. He is loving the show but has never read the books. I'll miss old V. though...he was always good for some pot stirring.

And Dany eating the heart....oh ug. Liked her scene with the dragon eggs, when her hands did not burn. And then the indifference she shows when Viserys dies....She is indeed becoming a Dragon.

Tyrion was a blast. Dinklage is so good. Pleading his case was excellent fun and Bronns' sword fight was good, but then the way Tyrion changes to all business when he gets free, pays his debt and "goes home". Nice.
Do not underestimate the Imp!

Ned, poor Ned. Too trusting, too honorable. I think he's portrayed that way for great contrast with the scheming of ALL of the players in Kings Landing. I just so wish he and Robert could've had that heart to heart after Cersei is sent out....sigh.....communication? Trust? Friendship? Not to be.....

Sansa is a tool...and very well cast and played. Joffrey continues to be a lying bastard...heh heh. Littlefinger makes me squirm. Arya and Syrio are great...good scene with them.

Jorrah....the Illyrio/Varys/Mormont connection remains a mystery to me. I'm hoping we'll get some clarity after July. I assumed that even tho Jorrah had sworn allegiance to Viserys, it became apparent to him who the smarter/better leader was between the sibs, and thus where his bread was buttered. Either that, or Varys was telling him who to take care of.

Oh this is so fun, and so well realized. Well done!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
16. tnh
Favorite bits:

-- Tyrion's beautifully handled "confession" as he played for his audience's sympathy.

-- Tyrion tossing the gold to Mord in front of everyone at the keep, at the exact moment when they were angriest and had least power over him, saying "A Lannister always pays his debts." He was paying off his debt to Mord, but he was also getting him into a world of trouble with his masters -- payback, no doubt, for all those thumps from Mord's baton.

-- Viserys Targaryen's long-awaited day of reckoning. I figured from the length of time we had to wait for it that it would be colorful, and I wasn't disappointed.
17. dmg
"And that’s all I have to say this week because Time Warner doesn’t have HBO Go service and I could only watch one episode last night. No fair."

I watched episode 7, but will reveal nothing other than it is another excellent episode... Well, I do have one question, especially for those viewers who also read the books.

How in the world can this show be 70% complete? Does it all somehow wind up in the last 5 minutes of episode 10?
18. cheem
@17, this book adapts book 1 of a 7 part series. Not everything... OK, not much... "winds up" at the end of book 1 of this particular series. Rather, book 1 ends with various characters setting out on the roads that will lead to their fates (figuratively speaking in certain cases).
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
Tek - I can help you but it is spoiler stuff.

Dmg - Cheem has it exactly right. There are endings in GoT, and some satisfying ones, but more happens in the ensuing books.
Claire de Trafford
22. Booksnhorses
Another great episode - loved it all apart from lack of direwolves.

The whole Eyrie bit was brilliant from Tyrion and Mord, Tyrion and his 'crimes', Tyrion and Bronn (my husband and I like to hum unchained melody when we see him - - he's great but we can't help ourselves), Sweetrobin wanting the end of the story.

What to say about Ned apart from *headdesk*.

I like the extra bits that showing how alienatedTheon is becoming, and Roz's extra bits as it were.

I'll miss Viserys. Yes, he was totally mad, but I felt for him, and he was quite cute. Having said that it is hardly surprising that Dany wasn't too bothered by his lovely golden crown; I don't think she's planned the elective caesar and the tummy tuck till she's at least 38 weeks. Read all about it in Dothraki Hello.

We did see Myrcella and Tommen briefly at the tourney but it was a real blink and you miss it moment; OH missed it as he hasn't read the books, and having missed the first two episodes was clueless as to the J + C = children bit ( and kept saying 'but they're twins, how can they have children?').

Star scene for me though was Sansa and poor Septa Mordane. Fancy trying to be nice to a teenage girl! As if she can think of anything except facebooking her BFF Jeyne. Sansa would so be a Heather ( or a mean girl for you poor people who missed that classic). And I think we can all see what Westeros does to mean girls who marry kings.
William Fettes
23. Wolfmage
Another great episode.

Re: Bran

Yay. Another three-eyed crow dream, except this time pointing towards the crypt.

Great to see Bran wake up to a grinning Hodor carrying the saddle. His joyous whoop at riding again was wonderful. He's such an adorable kid so that was a really nice moment.

The Wildling attack went pretty much as I expected. There’s been some pretty venomous remarks in other fora about the lack of wolves here, but I can’t say I care much about it. Summer already has a kill on the board, and considering the precious little time we've spent with Rob, I'd rather the show build him up than pull another Deux Ex canine.

Robb gets his first kills on-screen, and Theon still risks the shot with some justification. Robb’s anger at Theon is for the same reason, even if Theon’s facial expression and tone in the books are rather more provocatively glib. I’m fine with that because I actually felt book-Robb was mostly channeling his anger at the situation towards Theon because it was Theon’s killing of some game that made the Winterfell guards fall behind in the first place. On this reading, Theon’s swagger just aggravates him further. The way they handled it wasn’t much different, and it works more organically because there are no guards and no game in the scene. I trust that the show makers have a character arc planned out for Theon, and that’s more important than any particulars to me.

Re: Tyrion

That was a terrifying camera angle for Tyrion’s sky-cell wakeup moment -- glad we got to see it. Mord was appropriately brutish and non-negotiable. I did really like the book version of this part where Tyrion receives a black eye and makes no real headway until he exploits Mord’s special reverence for the written word as an illiterate, but I recognise they didn’t have the time for that with only 10 episodes.

Echoing everyone here –Tyrion’s 'confession' was hilarious. The tainted turtle soup! Haha

Bronn’s fight was great – probably the best fighting chorography we’ve seen so far IMO. Not only was it cool to see the difference between a knight like Ser Vardis with a kite shield and full plate versus a more agile, lightly armoured foe, but Bronn’s victory and subsequent quip serve as a great metaphor for the major plotline currently unfolding in King’s Landing.

Re: Dany

Oh, boy. Great to see Dany chowing down the horse heart and hear the prophesy of the Stallion that Mounts the World. I always found the way Martin described the thick blood in the heart and the toughness of the chewy meat pretty disturbing, so it was great to see the show capture the rawness of that moment.

Viserys’ realistation that Dany was not just a chattel gone native, but a wife leader who had actually earned the love of the Dothraki people was terrific. I felt his statement to Ser Jorah that you need fear, love or money to lead was pretty accurate, and combined with his admission that he had never been properly supported, made him somewhat more sympathetic prior to his death. Good work HBO – that’s a notable improvement on the books.

Golden crowning - wow. This was cool. They totally exceeded my expectation in terms of actually seeing the molten gold flowing over his head.

Re: Theon

Glad we’re still keeping up with Theon's internal malaise, even if not much is actually happening beyond establishing and cementing his conflicted position in Winterfell. I did like seeing him toss a coin to Ros for a parting beaver-shot. It was both true to his crass, misogynistic nature, whilst still being strangely poignant about his loss at her leaving.
Theresa DeLucci
24. theresa_delucci
Watching Dany eat that heart gave me horrible flashbacks to high school biology class. The smell.... ugh. I've eaten some pretty weird things in my day (including turtle gumbo actually) but I think that raw organ meat is where I draw the line. I don't even like cooked heart, really.

I'm okay with the lack of wolves. It's unfortunate, but I didn't think about it too much. Hopefully we'll at least see more of Ghost and Grey Wind. Ghost especially becomes pretty important.

@22 *headdesk* is pretty apt for Ned. Honor is sadly a real liability in King's Landing. It's frustrating to watch. Why play by the rules if no one else is? It's painful to see him limp around court.

@RobMRobM I'm kind of glad I can't watch episode 7 right away because that means two weeks without a new episode. I'm a very impatient person and no way could I have held off. However I'm watching the next ep with my parents after my sister's wedding on Sunday. (Hehe - weddings and GRRM don't mix.) Gimme a little spoiler -- is there lots of nudity? I know I couldn't watch True Blood or Spartacus with my parents in the room. Awkward... There's no time for brothels! We're really careening towards the end now.

@15 Robert is just as frustrating as Ned, for different reasons. He seems like a good man at heart, but the people around him appeasing him have corrupted him too much. He's got a real spiteful streak, too. He lashes out at people around him like a spoiled child. Lost love and sorrow and his self-destructive tendencies make me wonder how he kept his throne for 17 years in the first place. He knows he's surrounded by snakes and yes-men and it seems like he held it together for awhile, but Ned being in town is almost like he's given himself permission to regress.
Rob Munnelly
25. RobMRobM
Theresa - I didn't see Ep 7 yet - I was referring to book spoilers above - but I heard a rumor there is a lengthy brothel scene involving Theon's favorite, formerly northern, red haired harlot. Just what you were hoping to avoid.

Enjoyed this episode all around, except that are pushing Sansa over the like into out and out brat/idiot - I'd rather keep more nuance there. Very excited about the groundwork laid for CoK (which I can't really talk about - except to say, yeah!, go Lightning Lord!!
Theresa DeLucci
26. theresa_delucci
Oh crap. I also just remembered Shae. But that might not be next week. Maybe my sister's post-reception party will run into the encore showing. =p

Blood and guts, totally fine. Brothels, NO!
David Platt
27. The Not So Dark One
I think the actor who plays Ser Jorah, in both looks and accent would have made a much better Obi Wan in the new Star Wars trilogy than Ewan McGregor - He looks and sounds like a young Alec Guiness. Has the series lost Shae then? Is Ros going to be Tyrions woman?
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
Theresa - the scene I've heard about involves Ros (after she gets to Kings Landing) . And is exactly the type of explicit, brothel-icious scene you've been dreading. Forewarned is forearmed.

@27. Shae is definitely cast and coming up soon; no idea if Shae makes her appearance in this episode - but I certainly hope so. ;-) I know the producers were very impressed with Shae actress, who is Turkish/German, gorgeous, has shown her skin on film before, and has been nominated or won significant acting awards (i.e., German version of the Oscars)
29. dmg

RobM is correct again. (Must be why his name is RobMRobM! :-)

Episode 7 includes a lengthy brothel scene with girl on girl sex, so it is likely inappropriate for the apres-wedding festivities. The episode also includes blood and guts, in a marvelous and powerful (in many ways) opening scene. Also probably not apres-wedding appropriate. :-)

I, like you, prefer my doses of GoT sprinkled liberally, but patiently. Except I depart Sunday morning for 1 week of trekking in the mountains of Utah, incommunicado. My return is the following Sunday morning, the same day as episode 8, so...

One more question for the book readers. It seems to me that even more time could be spent on character development, which would extend the show well beyond the 10 episodes. Certainly, based on a few powerful scenes already aired, that richness is in the books. The books are like 10,000 pages each, though, so did/does the creative cull out too much from the books, or the right amount?
Claire de Trafford
30. Booksnhorses
@29. It's difficult to say. Obviously it would have been great to have had the full detail of the books, and 10 episodes does seem to be paring it down to the bone. They've done a good job of translating the books but there will always be parts left out that people regret - you see this mentioned in posts for each episode, for instance Ned's fever dream, or the Hound/Sansa storyline.

On the other hand I'm not sure how full detail would go down with people new to the series - there's already so many names etc to take in. For instance, seeing the wights in the first episode was cool, but the pay off for that is quite a way off; I think seeing some of Robert's rebellion might have been more helpful?

I'd like to see an 'extended edition' DVD with missing sections filled in, but in reality I'm just glad that it is getting a second season with hopefully 12 or more episodes (I mean the fact that Two and a Half Men - officially the worst and unfunniest series in the known world IMHO - gets 20+ shows that the world really is run by the devil) and that the adaptation is a brilliant as it is. And anyway, GRRM has said that the books will end with the main cast all meeting up in a church ready to go on to their next lives while Sam and Jaime take care of the island ...
Rob Munnelly
31. RobMRobM
@29 and 30. Producers have done a good job of keeping the important stuff in the plot without slavish attention to text. Agree with Claire there are definitely some additional scenes I would like to have had on screen (especially Tyrion being threatened by the wolves in his visit back to Winterfell (with is classic line: "My sleeve is torn, my breeches are unaccountably damp, but I am otherwise unharmed"); and especially Ned's fever dream - and really wondering how the content of the dream will make it into the TV show). EDIT - and where or oh where is our beloved Blackfish. I really hope he makes it into Season 2.

The three areas where the books outshine the TV show are in the discussion of past events that are important to the current and future plot, the various internal character monologues that give insights that can only be rendered imperfectly on the screen (especially Dany and Sansa), and the presence of the freaking direwolves, which except for rare circumstances never leave the sides of their Stark kids. (For example, don't you think the Bran wildling scene in the TV show would have been more enjoyable with a few more wildlings and both Summer (Bran's) and Grey Wolf (Robb's) chomping them? How about Ghost licking Samwell's face when he broke down telling Jon about being cast out by his father? Etc. I thought you would.)

Theresa DeLucci
32. theresa_delucci
Maybe the direwolves are too expensive to keep around as much as they would like. Animals and trainers are costly in both money and time on a shoot. If a lack of direwolves is a sacrifice we have to make to keep the show running affordably, I'm okay with that. I'm thinking of Rome and Deadwood here. I still think the crowd scenes should be better. CGI-it up a little or something. Spartacus has the best extras and they would've been perfect for the tourney and the Dothraki wedding. HBO should've sprung to fly them over from New Zealand. ;)

10 episodes does seem like a very short season, even for HBO. Rome, Deadwood, Carnivale, and Six Feet Under all had 12 episode seasons. (Except Rome had a shortened 10-episode second season and it really showed.) From what I've read, Game of Thrones' second season will also be 10 episodes.

And thanks for the brothel warning. I've since read about it too. It seems like something I'd expect from Al Swearengen at the Gem but certainly not Littlefinger. I'll reserve judgement til I see it with my own eyes, but, dude, we're three episodes from the finale. Do we have time for extraneous girl-on-girl? (This sex scene is so totally for the female audience, too, right, crappy NY Times reviewer-lady? I was promised lots of naked Drogo and HBO has not delivered. Hmph.)
Dan Layman-Kennedy
33. maestro23
One of my favorite visual touches in this series is that almost every time we see Ned in King's Landing, he has a sheen of sweat. It's a great marker that this is a man out of his element in several senses of the word.

Is it just me, or was the last shot of the Sansa/Joffrey scene deliberately staged to echo one of the iconic images of Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride? If so, well done - that's certainly the kind of story Sansa imagines she's in. It's only in context that this scene is unsettling; on its own, it's pure storybook. (Sansa would also be oblivious, of course, to just how dysfunctional the True Love in TPB is. I imagine she's immune to both caution and satire.)

Something that the show has underlined for me in the way the books didn't is how much of the story is driven by absence of fathers (literal and otherwise). Looking down the list of major players, it's staggering how many of them are affected to one extent or another by fathers who are some combination of unavailable, foolish, and/or monstrous: Ned, Jon, Bran, Robb, Tyrion, Theon, Arya, Sansa, Viserys, Sam, Joffrey, Robin, Robert, Gendry.... "Cripples, bastards, and broken things" are intertwined states in this world, and it's increasingly clear that the major players are all those things in one way or another - and that it's the relationships (or lack of) between father and child that do most of the wounding.
Marcus W
35. toryx
I finally got the chance to catch up yesterday. Definitely a good episode all around.

I have to say, I'm quite enjoying the way the sword fights are being handled. They're really emphasizing how hard it is to move with all that armor and a big heavy sword. That's been well played.

I'm surprised to find that I actually like Bronn as he's being portrayed in the show better than in the book. He's a more light-hearted seeming character and his response to Lysa's accusation that he doesn't fight with honor was perfect.

I find it rather amusing that Ros has been made into a larger character for the show.

About Ned: People like him are very rare indeed and if you happen to know one (I actually happened to marry one) you'll totally understand how he can be so blind. The thing is, when someone truly believes in honor and honesty, disdaining subterfuge and misdirection, it rarely occurs to them that others would ever act in such a manner themselves. There's no sense in such behavior and as a result they never expect it. You can call it naievity but it's generally more than that. To people like that, to say something you don't mean or act in a manner that's not consistent with your ideology is as inappropriate as to walk around kicking kittens. You just don't do that.

The "Crowning" of Viserys was well done and I was surprised they showed as much as they did too. Dany's response was the first thing Emilia Clark did that I actually liked.
Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica
Maestro23@33: ROFLOL...very funny.

(Sansa would also be oblivious, of course, to just how dysfunctional the True Love in TPB is. I imagine she's immune to both caution and satire.)
37. Helloes
I believe the reason the wolves aren't prominent is because they're not actually properly trained cinema dogs, but just normal dogs and animals are notoriously hard to work with - especially when they're young like these dogs still are. I mean, if any of you has ever had a puppy you know exactly what I'm talking about. The constant biting at everything, exploring and playing around. Believing every single person they encounter is a potentional friend, who maybe wants to play with them etc.

It's hard to show a dog being hostile for example, when he's just as likely to want a pat or beg for some treat from the person he's supposed to intimidate. Not to mention that you really don't want to learn them bad habits - especially when some of them, like Lady ended up with the actress(Sansa).

It's a minor trade-off for the series.

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