Uh-oh. Joffrey’s been reading Hunger Games again.
This week on a shocking episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the adaptation gets a little loose in places, to varying degrees of WTF-ness. But nothing that comes before it can prepare one for a final twist that would make J.J. Abrams proud.
Warning: episode reviews contain episode and book spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, follow Leigh Butler’s read of ASOIaF. Tor.com is not liable for your further enjoyment of the series if later books get spoiled in the comments.
Did the humor seems off to anyone else tonight? The tone was all over the map (much like our characters) and while many individual parts worked, this was my least favorite episode of the season so far. Perhaps my expectations were too high.
Perhaps the opening was too uneven, messing with my expectations right off the bat. I mean, we go from Ricky Gervais lookalike knights farting to one of the least artless implied battles since Rome’s second season. I know the results of these battles are more important than actually seeing them, but it’s pretty unintentionally funny in a normally pedigree show.
More importantly, who is this girl Robb’s making eyes at? If we didn’t get a glimpse at Joffrey’s fetishes later in the episode, I’d say Robb’s got really strange tastes. Women who are good at amputations are pretty interesting, I’ll gve him that. If this storyline’s going where I think it is, I guess it doesn’t matter that this potential interest for Robb isn’t named Jeyne. Like the battles, the results are more important to the story than the details.
Normally I really enjoy the new-to-TV scenes on this show, but the liberal use of Littlefinger’s prostitutes is getting really old. When this episode was already about 11 minutes short on run-time, did we really need such a painfully uneccessary scene as Joffrey popping his cherry. We know he’s a little sadist. His beating and stripping of Sansa at court was definitely sufficient in making that point. Having the young king threaten Tyrion through Ros and her friend’s humiliation was just the flimsiest excuse to show more naked women. Yawn.
A new scene that I enjoyed was Catelyn getting Ned’s bones. While I’m not fully behind the interpretation of Littlefinger presented on this show, Michelle Fairley gave a heartbreaking performance in this scene. Man, I miss Ned.
I much prefer Cat as grieving widow than as the Marge Simpson of Westeros. Talking about knocking her two sons’ heads together to get them to make up is a cute anecdote, but, really Cat? This is something a hell of a lot more serious than a playground tussle. Cat may have the weight of the Stark name behind her, but she’s a terrible mediator.
We only got a short scene with Margaery this week, but she looked fabulously over-the-top again. She’s good at showing her teeth, too. Cat could learn something from her.
The line of the evening, however, belonged to Renly. In an episode filled with awkward attempts at humor, only Renly’s “Born in salt and smoke? Is he a ham?” quip made me chuckle. He’s no Melisandre, but Renly can throw some shade of his own.
Even Dany, who finally wandered into a storyline, seemed really weak as she talked her way into the beautifully painted backdrops of Qarth. Where was her fire? I’m going to chalk it up to being hungry and tired. Xaro Xhoan Daxos seemed a bit stiff, too. I’ll be glad to get past this awkward introduction.
My favorite parts of the episode revolved around Arya. (Big surprise.) The first Harrenhall sighting was everything I imagined. Her hit list definitely had more weight coming after Yoren’s death last week. The new Gregor Clegane seems a bit skinny, no? But I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t explicitly looking to compare. I was never so happy to see Tywin Lannister show up! With so many changes being made to show, I did actually fear for Gendry just a bit. Also... rats. Ew. Can’t wait to see Arya as the cupbearer. The tone of this part of the story is just pitch-perfect.
Surely the most-talked about part of tonight’s episode was the cliffhanger ending. Nothing prepared me for Melisandre’s labor when I first read the scene. I would’ve loved to have been in the room with some ASOIaF virgins during the birth of that shadow.
But I couldn’t believe the episode ended there! Torture!
I feel like the last two episodes have dragged a bit. But next week shit defintely hits the fans, so I’m sure my excitement will be much higher. Also: Jaqen returns. Mmm, Jaqen.
Am I being too hard to please? Sound off in the comments.
Game of Thrones airs 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci