There was quite a bit of exposition in this episode and the introduction of some minor characters with major impacts on the core characters. The bits between Robb and his obvious love interest are a bit cliché, a little too much of the 99% coming into an epic fantasy. Thinking back to the book we do get a bit of this as well, the effects of war on the populace and what not, but let’s face it, I’m not watching this for a social commentary so forgive me if I find the “what did this poor boy every do to you?” speech a little grating. I’m a bit meh about seeing Robb’s eventual love. We don’t see their meeting in the book and really we didn’t need it here. As a matter of fact the moment that he returns to his mother and introduces her is an excellent piece of writing from GRRM yet they yank it away. The implications of this pairing are vital to the overall story, but we won’t see them for quite some time. I for one can’t wait, CAN’T WAIT for what is coming, but it has to run its course unfortunately with a bunch of made up scenes specifically for the television show. Tease one.
I must admit I lean heavily toward Arya in the books so it’s natural to feel an affinity for her in the show as well but I must say my imagination of the tortures of the Brave Companions were far worse than what we see in the show. The Tickler just doesn’t scare me to be honest, maybe because I think he resembles the guy from the British version of the Office. (speaking of, isn’t about time for the American Office to go away? It just hasn’t been that great, has it?) Even so, a rat strapped inside a bucket is pretty gruesome, even if it’s a little derivative of 1984. At the last minute Tywin Lannister comes in and saves Arya and the rest of the prisoners adding to his already strong reputation as the real power behind the throne and one of the shrewdest characters we’ll see. Those of us who have read the books are anticipating what comes next because things get really interesting for Arya in the next and I’m guessing remaining episodes. Tease two.
Dany finally gets out of the wastelands with the help of an insider from Qarth. It is important but when I get right down to it, I find Dany and her plotline pretty boring. To be honest it probably has to do with the downward trajectory that the arc takes in the book. There is some exciting stuff coming to be sure, but for much of my reading and watching I usually find myself thinking, “what is going on in the Seven Kingdoms?” Dany finally getting a drink of water doesn’t really do much for me. Call it tease 2.5.
I wouldn’t even give the scenes with Joffrey a tease factor. They basically fulfilled what is becoming the sad T & A quota for the series. Even more annoying is that they are making him into a charicature of an evil king. I think I read somewhere that all we needed was Joffrey twirling his moustache or maybe the breathing mask from Blue Velvet. Either way what they are doing with Joffrey is possibly the most disappointing aspect of the series thus far.
Littlefinger is always a treat to have on screen and I’m glad he had quite a nice chunk of this episode. I felt last season Aiden Gillen was on par with Peter Dinklage as far as performance goes and I hope that he does enough to merit a consideration for an award or two this season. We get to see Petyr do what he does best, basically play the games of court. I must admit for all of the “HOLY CRAP” scenes from the book and the show I like the machinations of the politics the best. It reminds me of I, Claudius during these scenes and the producers of the show should really take note of that. There was quite a bit of violence and titillation in the wonderful BBC production of that novel as well, but because of the extremely limited resources of the BBC the actors carried much more of the series. Watching Littlefinger try and carry the Lannister terms while still playing his hand is quite fun to watch and again makes me even more excited for the moment when his plan is fully revealed. Tease three.
What is really exciting comes to us from the camp of Stannis. After the failed attempted by Cat Stark to broker a peace, Davos is told by the king to take Melisandre on a midnight cruise. (And where the hell was Renly’s peach! If you read the books you know what I’m talking about.) He is to take her to shore close to Renly’s camp but well hidden. He’s not happy about it, but Davos does as he is told. Even without the creepy music filling the scene Devos’s manner and the conversation that he has with Melisandre let us know something is coming. Maybe it’s the Godfather Part II, but something about rowboats always kind of creeps me out, or maybe its Friday the 13th, either way the effectiveness of this scene really ratchets up the tension and really made me anxious to see what was going to happen. Or better said, how were they going to present it, knowing full well what was on the horizon. What made that scene even more fun was having my wife ask me, “what is going on?” and me telling her to just watch. When we finally see the birth of the shadow I was sure we get to the big pay-off, but that will have to wait until the next episode. Tease four.