So it’s safe to say that even when he’s writing for television, George R.R. Martin takes a long time to tell a story, right? In last night’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, written by the man himself, the action and drama was ratcheted up so fast, I was caught off guard when the end credits came up and realized the episode actually ran longer than an hour. It sure as hell didn’t feel any longer.
There’s now so much happening on this show, I don’t even know where to begin my review. I also only watched this episode once, so please forgive me if I leave some things out. But I make mention of Hodor’s hodor. Have no fear.
The showrunners have been doing such a largely fantastic job of adapting A Game of Thrones these past seven weeks, so I was very curious to see if Martin’s own voice would change the rhythm the show. But if you didn’t know this episode was written by Martin, I don’t think you’d notice much difference in the episode. If anything, this episode seemed to have few new scenes at all. But so many hugely important things happened here, to change any one of them would have been messing with the source material far too much.
Martin keeps good on his promises and an episode called “The Pointy End” certainly delivered on the fight scenes. We open with the Lannisters flushing out all of Ned’s men in King’s Landing. I think the Stark guards should be the ones wearing red armor. And if you don’t hate Lannisters after this episode, there’s something hugely wrong with you. Septa Mordane met her fate with great dignity, but nothing beats Syrio Forel. Miltos Yeromelou was definitely a standout of this show. His performance matched the spirit of his counterpart in the books so perfectly, I basically just nodded my head saying “Right on, right on. You will be speaking to him with more respect... before he beats your ass with a wooden sword.” I think Arya’s ability to see was really awakened in that moment. She will never be the same. Shit got way too real. And now she is a murderer at the age of ten. And on the run, just like her direwolf.
And her sister Sansa, while not executed like Lady, is being punished for a crime she didn’t commit. I never liked Sansa as a character in the books, and i think she’s even more of a naive brat here, but I’ll give her a pass in this episode because she’s reacting pretty much exactly how a naive teenage girl would react in her predicament. She’s terrified for her father’s life even more than she’s scared of being stripped of her Disney princess dreams. I really do wish her conversations with The Hound were left as they were in the books. They were some of my favorites and really drove home that she wasn’t living in a fairy tale of lemon cakes and heterosexual Knights of Flowers.
And will Sansa get her father to confess to treason? Not even Sansa can believe that in her heart. Oh, Ned. Can he really be surprised that he ended up in a dungeon? I love Ned, I really do. He’s honorable where other men are not. I don’t even believe that Jon Snow is even his bastard because Ned doesn’t cheat at anything. But it’s is SO GODDAMED FRUSTRATING to watch him. The madness of mercy, indeed. If your enemy is boinking her twin brother under the king’s nose and claiming their inbred bastards are the rightful heirs and pushing adorable Stark kids out of windows, why in the hell would you think they play by the rules?
This is Westeros. It’s for men like Tyrion and Bronn. And Shagga, son of Dolf. They feed Ned’s honor and manhood to the goats. I wish Tyrion and his mountain clans would go fight for Robb instead. It’s not like Tywin was glad to see his dwarf son alive anyway. As a sidenote, Chella was way uglier on TV than how I pictured her in the books. I had to laugh at that.
Over at Winterfell, I thought it was a lovely, powerful shot to see all of Maester Luwin’s ravens taking flight to call the Stark bannermen to war. I like TV-Robb more than book-Robb. I guess because time’s condensed, he has less time to have arguments with people. Though the one he had with Greatjon Umber was worth showing. “Your meat... is bloody tough.” No one can complain that this episode had a lack of direwolves. Or unexpected Hodor... hodor. Seven hells. When I complained that this show had too many naked prostitutes for my tastes, I didn’t mean I wanted to see more random hodor. I just meant more Khal Drogo. I feel incredibly cheated. I was promised lots of naked Jason Momoa.
At least we didn’t have to see feeding time over in the Eyrie again.
I like TV-Catelyn more than her book counterpoint, too. Also due to a lack of screen-time. She is foolish and impulsive, but I really felt for her this episode. Her husband is imprisoned, one daughter is being used by Cersei and the other is missing, and she’s got two little boys alone at home. And now her firstborn is riding to war. He’s a man. I loved that moment when he went to hug her hello in front of his men and he stopped himself. In the books it felt more like Catelyn who had to exercise restraint, but here, it came across as mutual. Robb looks as surprised as Catelyn to see himself leading an army.
I imagine Shagga, son of Dolf, and his mountain clans would get along famously with the Dothraki. I still feel this storyline gets the shorter pointy end when it comes to epic feel, but the scant extras certainly gave raping and pillaging their all. If your tribe is called the Lamb Men, you’re basically asking to get slaughtered. Tough break. Dany is certainly a changed woman. Is it Rhaego’s fire inside her or her own latent dragon blood? It takes some cajones to stand up to Khal Drogo and we learned what he does to people who disagree with him. I love gratuitous gore way more than Hodor hodor. Only with these last two episodes have I started to feel the love between Dany and her sun-and-stars.
The only Stark I don’t feel bad for in all of this madness is Jon. On the one hand, how else should he behave when the rest of his family is danger and he’s trapped on the Wall? But his emotional outbursts are as predictable as any other young hero’s at the start of a fantasy quest. Next he’ll be whining to Jeor Mormont about wanting to leave the Wall to go to Tosche Station and get more power converters.
On that note, only Jon seems to be out of hot water this week. It’s probably for the best that his last name isn’t officially Stark or else he’d be on the run, going to war, crippled, or starving in a dungeon. I’d rather kill ice zombies for the rest of my life. Maybe Barristan Selmy should take the black in lieu of forced early retirement. His name is Barristan the Bold and Joffrey should be speaking to him with more respect. They need quality knights at the Wall and he’s smarter than any Stark for getting the hell out of King’s Landing while he still can.
Everyone I care about on this show should follow Ser Barristan’s lead. With only two episodes left (!) there doesn’t seem to be much time for a neat resolution. Game of Thrones feeds your need for justice to the goats.
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 hodor hodor HBO Go hodor hodor. Hodor you, Time Warner Cable!