One of my favorite musicals of all time is Ragtime. It is a great re-imagining of the E.L. Doctorow novel of the same title and if you’ve never seen it, next time it gets revived do yourself a favor and catch it. What really sold me I think was the opening number, the Prologue. It did a great job of introducing all of the major characters but more than that. It introduced the time period and major figures of history (who were bit players in the show.) The song brought home the chaotic nature of the Progressive period, many of the issues at play during that time and on top of that the fictional story was laid out and the audience was all set for the next two hours. If only I found the first episode of Game of Thrones: season two as compelling.
I should be clear it wasn’t a bad episode, but it wasn’t a good episode either. It really didn’t grab one’s attention and make you want to keep on watching. It was very much a review of the previous season with all of the characters from last season being reintroduced and placed along the map of Westeros. It actually would have worked a little better if, before each storyline was introduced a little graphic popped up to let you know their physical location. I guess that would be a little too much like a video game. The episode was disappointing because none of the storylines that began with the final episode of season one were advanced. Technically, Tyrion arriving in King’s Landing pushed the story along as did seeing Dany starve in the desert but it isn’t exactly appointment television. After all of the hype since January a little more was needed from this episode to make me excited for the rest of the season. What’s more in years past a recap episode made sense but with all of the options available to the audience to catch up or re-watch the past episode make it quite redundant. What’s more we’ve been waiting since May for something new and all we got was a plate of leftovers; nice leftovers, but leftovers nonetheless.
As far as what worked in the episode it’s a pretty short list. I didn’t need to see Rob threaten Jaime Lannister with his wolf, I didn’t need to see Dany trudge across the desert scantily clad like some character in Cerebus and I didn’t need another brothel coaching scene, though it did lead to the slaughter of the innocents which is important, if disturbing. I also found the characterization of Craster to be off. I always pictured him as kind of a sleazy, un-kept, dirty old man. Instead he looked like he could easily be part of the Night’s Watch. I was expecting a wilding lord to appear more…wild.
It was great to see Peter Dinklage chew up scenery and verbally slap Cersei around. This is easily my favorite part of Tyrion’s storyline. I don’t want to be a spoiler to the rest of the storyline (thus far anyway) but it doesn’t get much better for Tyrion than ruling the roost in King’s Landing. It was also nice to see Stanis make his first appearance if only for the promise of more to come. Again not to give away too much but as the entire saga wears on, the Stanis plot line is my favorite.
I wish there was more to say, to sink my teeth into, but unfortunately it basically left me flat. The best part was at the very end when we saw the trailer for the weeks ahead. Here’s to the next nine weeks being more interesting than the first.