Category Archives: Geek Response

I see where you’re coming from, Hemlock Grove

People will be incredibly harsh about Netflix‘s new original series Hemlock Grove. This is because there’s a lot to be harsh about; it’s a stupid show. It’s an incoherent mess, a car crash of inanely misogynistic overtones and insanely daft dialogue. It doesn’t know what it’s doing, where it’s veering next, and although the description of the first episode mentions the grisly murder of a teenage girl, it’s not a whodunnit. Oh, no. It is certainly not that.

Imagine studying Twin Peaks for its crazy insane brilliant moments and cutting them out with a scalpel, mixing them with an unhealthy dose of The Vampire Diaries, and then running the result through a Stephen King filter. Welcome to Hemlock Grove! You can ignore all the full Twin Peaks comparisons though, they’re way off; this is a child of IT and The Company of Wolves. The setting could be King’s Derry with the old American gothic steelworks and the deceptive docility of the streets; the teen angst could have come straight from the CW; the mysteries it tries to hint at are as clear as anything because this show is playing at layers it doesn’t have to cover it all up.

So it’s awful, but I watched all thirteen episodes because I was loving it. It’s crap and beautiful, reaching for something absolutely sublime. I wish it had been more courageous with the murder plot, and more work had been put into the dialogue, and the oppressive score had been scaled back some. I wish Famke Janssen had been allowed to act with her real accent and that someone on the writing staff could have pointed out that sexually active, attractive, or just plain interesting girls are more than murder/death/tragedy bait. I wish, I wish, I wish.

There’s so much promise to it – occasional hints and hat tips to genuinely dark moments and amusing sidenotes. The actors really try, and sometimes are completely over the top, but other times you feel a pang because it’s dead on, if not the kind of dead on Eli Roth and his gang want to be. The friendship between the boys is the core of it all and the occasional moments when it’s four teenagers against the world are when it begins to feel like there’s a direction and a purpose. Bill Skarsgard is wonderfully sinister and deranged, Landon Liboiron’s acting talent is clear but oddly underused (as is Lili Taylor). Joel de la Fuente was great fun and should have been made more of plot-wise (as should the whole Institute). Famke Janssen chews all the scenery and almost, almost gets away with it, but for the poverty of amazing one-liners.

I watched it all because I enjoyed the hell out of it, and its flaws make me furious because it wasn’t far off being amazing – the flaws are just too huge and can’t be ignored. I can’t recommend this series to anyone. That said, if you have a whole lot of fun with style over substance (I can honestly say I do), this could be right up your street. I’m conflicted. It’s fun, but only if you appreciate that it’s also awful.

Unfortunately the basic message is YET AGAIN do not be a girl in a horror movie/show.

Thanks, Eli Roth, Brian McGreevy, et al. Why don’t you work on that.

And yes this is my first blog post in months. This is because werewolves MATTER, okay.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 9: “Blackwater”

YEAH SO OKAY SPOILERS RIGHT YES OKAY AS LONG AS YOU KNOW

So basically I’m so horrendously late for this week’s recap/response to Game Of Thrones thanks to being busy and then terribly ill that I was tempted not to bother on the basis that the episode Blackwater was all the following:

– INCREDIBLY

– FUCKING

– ASS-KICKINGLY

– INTENSE

and trying to break it down into reactions to moments and scenes is hard because the whole thing is one big battle scene full of awesome.

Not since Helm’s Deep have I been so involved in a battle, and everyone in it comes across strong as anything; we get a proper Cersei vs Sansa standoff with Shae thrown in for good measure (forming a bond that gets me, it honestly does, because Shae has no reason to want to protect a girl who’s effectively a spoilt little brat from her perspective but does anyway, and I love it, and Sansa’s clear regard for her right back) and Tyrion gets to verbally smack Joffrey every chance he gets, and there’s a massive explodey moment

let me reiterate

A MASSIVE EXPLODEY MOMENT

better than most of the special effects I’ve EVER SEEN ON TELEVISION EVER IN MY LIFE by the way.

The episode is centred entirely on King’s Landing from the top to the bottom of our cast roster, taking in a tense moment between Bronn and the Hound as well as Joffrey trying to claim leadership over everyone and everything within reach – even ordering Sansa to kiss his sword. One of my favourite scenes in the entire thing was Sansa’s immediate response to his posturing, to poke holes in his claims to kingship and glory, comparing him to her brother as a lesser match. She’s got backbone, that girl. She’s trapped and in danger but she’ll fight, albeit without a Needle like Arya’s, because she’s not in the battlefield where that sort of weapon would help. This episode showed exactly why I love Sansa so much; Cersei gets drunk and plots their demise in the event of a thundering defeat and sack of the city, but Sansa tries to shore up hope in the other highborn ladies, and bites back at another spoilt child, like herself, who pretends to a greatness he barely comprehends, but she’s taken entirely to heart. She knows what a great, good knight should be, and Joffrey is the total opposite of that to the extent that even his drunken mother knows it. But Sansa wants to be good, damnit, and wants everyone else to be good and wants to make them better. And aww man the Hound. That poor psychotic bastard.

Cersei wins the entire episode though. MOAR WINE. MOAR. Every scene with her is electric and though Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion is the most tremendous creation on-screen over all telly at the moment, she’s got to be in for some awards, because even though I know the books backwards and forwards I was still leaning forwards in that last scene with Tommen and the poison going DON’T DO IT LADY DON’T DO IT and I don’t even know why, Cersei is a character I love to hate, how did that happen? Oh TV people you’re breaking me you really are. It’s a testament to the quality of work going on here that not only was I nervous for someone I don’t like but I was nervous despite knowing nothing would happen to her.

And wasn’t Tywin’s entrance the most kick-ass thing? I hate the Lannisters. They’re just so… hateful. But, you know, better than Stannis. But the Onion Knight! Oh it’s all just such a mess.

Oh oh oh and Tyrion. That scene between him and Varys, in which Varys hints at the darkness behind Stannis’ forces and in distant lands and how he wants Tyrion to succeed, I love them both, so much. Tyrion’s speech – “There are brave men knocking on our door. Let’s kill them!” – sums up his utter genius and wit and general excellence. It’s too much. I’ve got to have some tea. I’m overcome.

But yes anyway so who’s excited for the finale? I AM. Hopefully I won’t be so late with the next one, and it’ll be done properly.

No trailer, because it’s today for the US, and tomorrow for the UK, and I don’t want to be even remotely spoiled…

I don’t want this season to be over. But I need to see how they end it. NEED.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8: “The Prince Of Winterfell”

Here be spoilers. Also if you haven’t got past A Storm of Swords Part 2 it’s best to give this a wide berth until you have.

Late again, but a nice sort of late, like being ten minutes late to a tea party when the cakes are all out and the tea’s been poured. This is the one and only time anyone will compare Game of Thrones to a tea party, I bet.

Things feel a bit off this week as everything’s ramping up for the finale and everyone knows dark things are occurring so everyone’s kinda waiting for the shit to go down. The writers get to show off their ability to write the strongest scenes when they’re multipurpose without detracting anything from the whole or from any characters, but there’s something unfulfilling about this episode – quite rightly, because there will be big firey ‘splodey things next week. The pay-off will be massive.

No Sansa this week, but almost everyone else shows up, so I’ll have to cope I suppose.

– Yara rides rings around her brother, who isn’t the prince of Winterfell. Literally. “You were a terrible baby, did you know that?” Theon hasn’t got any better. It’s nice giving the repeatedly ass-kicking Yara a soft side like that, making her a bit less of a cut-and-dried figure who just turns up to prove how much of a pissy child Theon is; there’s a point to her, as we read in the books, and although she’s been absent much of the time every scene she’s in makes that point very well. I still don’t really care for the change of name, mind, but it’s a trivial thing compared to the other changes they’ve made.

– Woohoo for the mention of Mance Rayder! Woohoo for Ygritte! “We’re even now, Jon Snow.” Not even close. And then there’s Qorin Halfhand, who isn’t the arse-kicker of the books purely because of the time constraints. “They died because of me?” “See that it wasn’t for nothing.”

– YES KING ROBB LET’S DISCUSS THE LADY YOU ARE ENGAGED TO MARRY. LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS. BEFORE, YOU KNOW, YOU FORGET, OR SOMETHING. “I’m sure you’ll be very happy.” *LAUGHTER*

– I need to be reminded every week that she’s called TALISA. And she’s played by Oona Chaplin, descendant of the great Charlie. And she’s excellent.

– Lovely if slightly Shakespearean moment as he wanders along rambling eloquently about how awesome a lord Eddard Stark was, showing that he was what the ideal ruler should be, showing that he’s got a lot of it himself, slowly drawing his own doom upon himself. “He’d have liked you,” he tells the not-Jeyne, because everyone does like her, she’s great, and she’s perfect for him, and she’s also unintentionally the most dangerous person who isn’t a Lannister. “He didn’t care much about gold or glory.” And Eddard Stark died. “And you?” “You think I’m fighting this war so they’ll sing songs about me? I want to go home. I want the men following me to go home.” “Then why don’t you?” “Because we’ll never be safe until the Lannisters are defeated. And because I believe in justice.” Safety before Justice. Robb, you Prince Hal, you. A lovely scene to hold and compare with Jaime’s reintroduction at the end of last week’s episode. Here we have Robb neatly and perfectly captured in one scene. Honourable like his father, but more politically canny; his family’s safety is foremost in his mind, but he wants safety for everyone; he minds the people around him with no station even remotely compared with his own. Oh, he’s a lovely boy, and a perfect ruler. He’s doomed.

– The Kingslayer’s escaped! OMG! Robb does the perfect D:< face right here and I have it paused and I include it for your delight:

D:<

– Oh Catelyn. “Why?” “For the girls.” Never mind everyone else. FOR THE GIRLS. Other people have plenty of excuses for disliking Cat but this is my one and only reason, because she’s a good woman and a wonderful mother but this is a terrible thing to do. Understandable, sure, but wrong. For once, Lord Karstark’s complaints – pointing out the deaths of his children while hers still live – are perfectly valid. Horrible, but valid. “I would carve out my heart, and offer it to the Father if he would let my sons wake from their graves and step into a prison cell.” It’s a compelling point, and she’s acting like a true, honest, and above all desperate mother in this action, but Robb sums up why it’s just not right: “You’ve weakened our position, you’ve brought dischord into our camp, and you did it all behind my back.” Your son is your son, but when he’s a king, there are so many other things to consider. Your son must be a king first, and as the mother to a leader of men, you’re playing the game as much as he is. Also I refuse to believe she’s so short-sighted about her daughters as to think they’re not capable of fending for themselves. She’s not heard a word from Arya but takes this massive risk. Sansa’s threat isn’t as straightforward as death, she should be aware of that. She’s not acting in anyone’s best interests but Jaime’s.

– Though this leads to Brienne and Jaime scenes so as much as she annoys me there, I thank her, because OH BRIENNE.

– Check her out. She is wicked. He’s rude. She doesn’t cope well with rude. They’re marvellous. She’s far too pretty but she does a fabulous gurn which at least tones down the general pleasantness of her face.

😐

“Have you known many men? I suppose not.”

D:

“I didn’t mean to give offence, my lady.”

“Your crimes are past forgiveness, Kingslayer.”

“All my life men like you have sneered at me, and all my life I’ve been knocking men like you into the dust.” Jaime’s not a knight in Sansa’s understanding of the term, though he’s the best; Brienne is a knight, a true knight, though she’s a woman.

– Also I quite like how this looks like a romantic punt down the River Cam gone horribly, horribly awry:

– YES LOOK NEW COMPUTER LETS ME SCREENGRAB AT THE TOUCH OF THE BUTTON, I SHALL HENCEFORTH BE ABUSING THIS FACILITY

– Making Tywin a major character this season has been a supremely excellent move and it’s worked so well to fill in the exposition gaps without making it too obvious. It also serves to outline Arya better; she’s quick, we know that, but now she’s armed with the details of warfare and rule that no other little girl her age would have been exposed to. This doesn’t fit her trajectory in the books, though, where she’s more a nascent ninja killer – less about the wider world, more about that secret little prayer of names she wants dead.

 

“He’ll risk anything at any time,” says Tywin of Robb, “because he doesn’t know enough to be afraid.” IS THAT DOOM I HEAR.

– Clegane tasked with tracking down and destroying the Brotherhood as Tywin rides off to save the day. OH NO I LIKED HIS SCENES WITH ARYA this is a shame. But yay plot movement. He calls out her good service in front of everyone. “See that he doesn’t get drunk in the evenings. He’s poor company when he’s sober, but he’s better at his work.” UGH HIS WORK.

– Oh good, Biter (?) being mean to Arya. There’s a man who’ll totally make it to old age.

– HOT PIE TALKING PIES THIS IS DELIGHTFUL

– Hello Gendry, how you doin’. Hot, apparently. He’s doing hot. Because he’s a blacksmith. Yeah.

– And there goes Tywin with no pomp or circumstance at all. He’s so low key.

– I find Jon Snow a drag. I have to watch his scenes twice because I end up just watching his face. It’s a nice face. I approve of his face. Here, have a great tumblr find:

– The Halfhand plot is nice. I like how it’s visibly convincing Ygritte, partly because she wants to be convinced.

– HELLO TYRION. HELLO BRONN. “Do you have to do that here?” “I like to keep my hands clean.” Sparkling dialogue is being all shiny. This whole exchange is gold (heh) because how often is Tyrion argued into a losing position? Never. That’s how often. Until Bronn.

“A cloak slows you down in a fight. Makes it hard to move quietly.” A generation of people remember the superhero in a cloak and the jet engine in The Incredibles.

“What?” “What?” “What?!”

– The defence of King’s Landing. “Stannis will he here any day.” Mustn’t forget, because that will be THE NEXT EPISODE OMG SO EXCITED

– OH VARYS YOU HAVE BEEN MISSED.

“It’s just the unknown thieves we need to worry about now.”

“We could throw books at his men.” “We don’t have that many books.” “We don’t have that many men either.” My three favourite King’s Landingers in a room do not disappoint. Team Awesome. They’re like the Avengers of Westeros except they’re anything but.

– Oh my god Samwell Tarly. Refusing to believe Jon Snow could have met his end: “He’s got a Valyrian steel sword!” “So did his father.” Dolorous Edd needs more screen time.

– Wow, this carving thing is pretty awesome. It’s the obsidian! Dragonglass! Yes, I am pleased, they’ve made it a MOMENT so it stands out in a way it doesn’t in the book. Ace.

“Where were you?” “A man has patrol duty!” That’s it, Arya. Give the superb secret killer of Harrenhal all the attitude you can. Although we do get to see him boot a chicken out of the way:

Chicken Meet Boot

Casually removing a chicken from this situation

“Death is certain. The time is not.” It’s been done well, setting things up so Arya’s gift of death from Jaqen doesn’t look frivolously used.

– HELLO PODRICK PAYNE. Aww baby. “Odd little boy,” says Cersei, when he’s still in earshot, because she’s Cersei. “I have a certain sympathy for odd little boys,” says Tyrion, who never misses an opportunity, because he’s Tyrion.

– Oh god they’re eating lampreys. THEY ARE DINING ON A CREATURE FROM NIGHTMARES.

“He’s only a boy,” Cersei says of Joffrey. “Younger boys are off fighting his war,” says Tyrion, and there’s a clanging moment when you remember Cat doing stupid things because she’s a mother in a not entirely dissimilar situation. Although all mothers in Westeros are too – these just happen to have power to go with their motherly concerns.

– Varys is dangerous “because he doesn’t have a cock.” “Neither do you!” “Perhaps I’m dangerous too.” Cersei’s lethal, but not in the same way that Varys, Tywin, Joffrey or even Arya are lethal. Hubris, love. You reek of it. She’s got more in common with Theon at times – though unlike Theon, brought up by noble old Ned, Cersei has the benefit of Tywin’s influence.

– Scene underlines how horrible this woman can be. Joffrey’s not that unique a flower in the Lannister family tree.

– OH HELLO ROS. Well, book readers knew this was coming. No one’s really surprised except Tyrion. Peter Dinklage and his awesome subtle moment of relief rock so hard. “I’m sorry they hurt you. You must be brave.” Cersei grins as she thinks she wins this round, but Tyrion’s absolute fury burning around his edges is wondrous to behold.

“I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid.” “Get. Out.” Oh hey Cersei! Doling out the speeches promising revenge but unable to face one down. She’s afraid. He’s angry. She’s got this one wrong but doesn’t know it. He does. She’s not quite lost this roll of the dice, but it’s close.

“I would kill for you, do you know that? I suspect I’ll have to before this is over.” Yes, yes you will. “You’re mine.” “I’m yours.” That quote could come with a question mark because she almost seems unsure. “I’m yours. And you are mine.” Fitting that Tyrion gets another semi-wedding between a girl’s legs, but let’s let that pass for now.

– Bolton mentioning his Bastard. Grrr. “Send word to your son. Any Ironborn who surrender will be allowed to return safely to their homes.” “A touch of mercy is a virtue, your grace – too much…” “Any Ironborn with the exception of Theon Greyjoy. He betrayed our cause. He betrayed me. We will hunt him down no matter where he runs.” Like he tried to do to your brothers, though you don’t know it. Theon’s life is about to get exceedingly hard.

“How am I? I’ve had to arrest my mother. The Lannisters have my sisters. The man I considered my closest friend has seized my home and my brothers. I’m fighting a war and I don’t know if I should march south or north.” “Sorry. It was a stupid question.”

“You have every right. You’re a king.” “That’s not the kind of king I want to be.” I’ve just been reading Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV part 2 and now all I can see is PRINCE HAL PRINCE HAL PRINCE HAL every time Robb mentions his rule.

– There’s sex coming, isn’t there.

– She has a lovely scene. I liked it. I can’t add anything to it. “I decided two things that day; I would not waste my years planning dances and masquerades with the other noble ladies and, when I came of age, I would never live in a slave city again.” Yes here’s even more reason for Robb to fancy the pants off her.

“I don’t want to marry the Frey girl.” “I don’t want you to marry her.” CHARACTERS SPEAKING FOR ALL THE VIEWERS OMFG and yet and yet.

– Line of the night: “I hope it’s a very beautiful bridge!”

– Oh look, here be shagging. Avert your eyes, give them some privacy. She’s easier to disrobe than he is, I’m fairly sure they’d have given women more layers, but okay, I know, this show has a thing about naked ladies.

– Aww Hot Pie still calls her Arry.

– The dead guards are quite creepy. Winning creepy points: Mr Jaqen.

– WELL HELLO DRAGONSTONE CREW. They’re on ships. I wonder where they’re heading.

– Discussing what they ate to survive at the siege of Storm’s End: “First we ate the horses. We weren’t riding anywhere, not with the castle surrounded. We couldn’t feed them, so, fine, the horses. And the cats. Never liked cats. So, fine. I do like dogs. Good animals. Loyal. But we ate them.” I CAN’T THINK WHY SO FEW PEOPLE WANT YOU TO BE THEIR KING, STANNIS. MAYBE IT’S THE CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER THE SIZE OF A WEIRWOOD TREE.

– Much as I like Liam Cunningham, Ser Davos isn’t as good in the tv series. He’s one of those characters who doesn’t make the transfer from book to screen very well.

– Oh god it’s Joffrey.

“They say Stannis never smiles. I’ll give him a red smile, from ear to ear.” *Joffrey stalks off, pleased* “Imagine Stannis’ terror,” Tyrion comments, a bit delighted at this show of sheer silly from his nephew. “I am trying,” Varys says wryly.

“You’re quite good at being Hand, you know. Jon Arryn and Ned Stark were good men, honorable men, but they disdained the game and those who play it. You enjoy the game.” “I do. Last thing I expected.” “And you play it well.” “I’d like to keep playing it!”

“The Lord of Light wants his enemies burnt. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious c*nts? Where is the god of tits and wine?” WHERE INDEED. At least Varys mentions the Summer Isles. Nice.

– Varys also mentions Qarth, and Daenerys and her dragons. “One game at a time, my friend,” says Tyrion, possibly not understanding that this kind of game happens to you, you rarely get to choose to partake.

– Daenerys. Because this episode is packing everyone in save Sansa. “A mother does not flee without her children!” “They are not your children,” says Jorah. WELL. “They are the only children I will ever have.” OH STOP PINING JORAH IT’S UNSEEMLY.

– Bit tired of Dany’s turn-to-the-camera-to-emote scenes. It’s very samey. Emilia Clarke is capable of more subtlety than that, we’ve seen it, so they could totally make these scenes work better. Also. She has dragons. I get it. Can she have another plot to play with please?

– Lovely, gentle reveal there, with Osha. I mean cinematically, thematically, and, regarding the uber-whump of exposition that’s just been dumped in the dialogue. It worked, but no one was convinced the bodies were the boys, so it’s got no tension about it whatsoever.

“The little lads have suffered enough.” Umm.

NEXT WEEK:

I am eagerly awaiting the scene with Sansa, Cersei and all the high-born ladies. And, you know, all the BIG WAR SHIT.

Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 7: “A Man Without Honour”

SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY

I’m doing really well with this late blogging thing, aren’t I? Well, here I am again, and I have chocolate and coffee and croissants and I’ve listened to a dupstep remix of the Harry Potter score so I don’t know where we are with this to be honest, not a clue, all I know is whump whump whump SUGAR HIGH which is enough to be getting on with.

No Dragonstone again this week but definite movement where that’s concerned seeing as it’s BUILDING UP TO THE GOOD SHIT YESSSSS PLEASE. Joffrey’s still ruling offscreen, Rickon appears again for more nuts, and MOST AWESOME the prize of Best Scene This Episode goes to the re-introduction of Jaime Lannister. It’s been a long time coming and doesn’t disappoint.

Overall, it’s a functional episode. It has some nice moments but most of it’s about setting up the pieces for the endgame of the series, now looming like a great big loomy thing – Daenerys’ scenes in Qarth had a bit of an adrenaline kick at the end of the last episode but that feels wasted somewhat this week, at least until Xaro and the guy who looks like he’s from the Crystal Maze prove that my fondness for the canny bastards is well placed.

Anyway. This is an episode rich in foreshadowing. It is paving the way for big things to come. It does this without being boring; functional, but spiced with fantastic moments and scenes and characters that really make this series the best thing around now, because it’s a filler episode that excites and delights and saddens and makes you think and usually this sort of episode would be tedious and blah in any other programme. I love Game of Thrones so much, so much. It’s characters sparking off against each other turned into an art form.

Yeah, if you thought I didn’t like it or something.

– Oh good we get to see Theon’s rage response to the loss of the Starks! Alfie Allen’s doing all right in this role, being a prize asshat. “It’s all just a game!” Theon crows as he hunts Bran and Rickon. Well, he’s not exactly wrong.

– WHAT IS IT WITH RICKON AND NUTS

– Jon Snow spends his entire life being uncomfortable around people. It’s exhausting. Why is he anyone’s favourite character? Aside from the lovely Kit Harington I don’t actually see the charm. Yeah, he’s a good boy, but yawn. Ygritte is a nice kick up the arse for his scenes. Gives him something more interesting to angst about.

– BROTHERHOOD WITHOUT BANNERS *PLOT KLAXON*

– The change of actors for Clegane is obvious and unfortunate but it’s good to have someone psychotic and mental back on the show, in Joffrey’s absence I was getting worried about the general sanity here. It was getting too normal. Oh wait he’s not hanging around to do anything violent. He’s just gone off to do it. Okay.

– Tywin doesn’t like mutton. Tywin makes sure his cup-bearer eats. Tywin does nothing without purpose. “My legacy will be determined in the coming months. Do you know what legacy means? It’s what you pass down to your children, and your children’s children. It’s what remains of you when you’re gone.” Arya’s tempted to stab him in the back but can’t because he’s projecting onto her and that would be rude. You can’t disrupt acting as fine as this. It’s just not cricket. Also it doesn’t fit. Arya isn’t that clumsy or obvious.

“Aegon… and his sisters.” GO ARYA GO also check out the best deployment of exposition ever. Well played, script writers.

“You remind me of my daughter,” says Tywin. Everyone sighs because of course she does, it’s spirited ladies from here to Qarth, and Cersei is the only other spirited lady you knew as a child. Oh Tywin. “I enjoy you, but be careful.”

– “IF YOU’RE GOING TO POSE AS A COMMONER YOU SHOULD DO IT PROPERLY” SAYS TYWIN AND GIVES EWA A HEART ATTACK “YOU’RE TOO SMART FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, HAS ANYONE TOLD YOU THAT” “YES” OH GUYS HELP THEY’RE TOO AWESOME how can he not know who she is, the pressure in these scenes is robbing me of oxygen

“Killing’s the sweetest thing there is.” “Why are you always so hateful?” Oh perfect juxtaposition of scenes to illustrate the difference between Arya and Sansa. Arya’s too smart for her own good, and Sansa’s too good for her own good, and that is how they’re going to grow into kickass ladies. Sansa wants people to be better, like stories, so she’ll strive for goodness and the ideal and keeps seeing the potential for it in other people when they can’t see it in themselves. That’s a leader. Contrast her question to the Hound about his hatefulness with Jaime’s conversation with the other Lannister at the end of the episode; seeing the good in others. Arya only sees a path to an end. Now, I love Arya, but she’s not got a character arc, she’s got a plotline. When it comes to characters whole and entire, Sansa’s got so much more to do and achieve, and I really appreciate that.

– And now Dany and Xaro. Nothing really happens except pleading and anger on a staircase. I like Xaro but if he could stop telling us about his background and focus more on his now I’d be more interested. But I like him. There’s something of Littlefinger about him, but with more charm and less disdain. Also I don’t care about the dragons. She’ll get them back. It feels like an excuse to save SFX money.

– Ugh Jon Snow she’s gorgeous what is wrong with you, you utter pillock “YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW” AND SHE’S RIGHT WE ALL KNOW IT

– LOVE YOU ROBB but let’s be honest this isn’t about anything other than him fancying the pretty medic lady whose name I still don’t know but I know she’s not Jeyne. WOO HOO FIELD TRIP I WONDER WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN WHEN THEY’RE ALONE TOGETHER.

– Roose Bolton wandering around being sinister just so we remember he’s there for Season 3. Okay. Okay! *Feeling ill*

– I love the slightly mad camerawork when Theon’s shown as in charge. Works so well. “It’s better to be cruel than weak.” Welllllllll, no.

– Oh THAT’S what’s with Rickon and nuts

– Irri ;_;

“No one can survive in this world without help. No one.” I love Ser Jorah but his relationship with Dany is so suspect. Emilia Clarke needs more to do and Iain Glen rocks, but this feels like we’re going over old ground when the show doesn’t need to.

– Jon Snow gets made fun of by Ygritte and everyone perks up because it’s funny and deserved. “Should have took me when you had the chance,” she says, and everyone laughs.

– Poor Sansa. Awesome Shae. The dangers of sex from Jon Snow’s perspective is something else, but it’s a real danger for Sansa, who is now directly at the most risk of all the Starks (apart from Bran and Rickon, except we know they’re away from Theon now). Stop whining Jon Snow. You’re not at risk of being married to a psychopathic, abusive king and be made to carry his children. Have your damn sex with the pretty willing lady who’d make you interesting. Meanwhile, Sansa’s bedroom is invaded by the Hound, why exactly did that happen?

– “I thought it would be less… less messy.” LIFE, LITTLE BIRD.

“Joffrey’s always been difficult.” WELL. Cersei’s main area of expertise is how to grab power from a husband that she loathed. I’m not sure this pep talk will have the desired effect. And Robert wasn’t half as much of a little shit as Joffrey. “Difficult”. Hahaha. Because obviously Cersei should have some sort of rapport with Sansa here, but Sansa’s protestation that she loves Joffrey is her defence against it. It’s distancing because it’s so patently untrue. She’s defending herself with words while Arya uses death. Best. Siblings. Ever.

“The more people you love, the weaker you are.” You are not Tywin, Cersei, however much you want to be. “Love no one but your children” – arguably Tywin doesn’t even love his children, and Joff is Cersei’s greatest liability while Jaime’s locked up.

– HELLO JAIME “There’s only one fat Lannister. If she was your mother, you’d know it.” oh you’ve been missed, J. Proving himself a good soldier, a good leader, remembering unimportant people. “It was the best day of my life.” I’m having flashbacks to Dr. Watson in Sherlock, missing war. “It’s like stepping into a dream you’ve been dreaming for as long as you can remember, and finding out that the dream is more real than your life.” Lovely. I can’t wait for him to be maimed. “It’s a good thing I am who I am. I’d have been useless at anything else.” That’s Jaime Lannister, right there, whole and entire. Perfect, sad, awesome scene.

“Will you betray her again, Jorah the Andal? Will you betray her again?” “Never.” Subtle world-building is subtle, with the reference to Valyria. Stop being awesome, show runners! I can’t cope with this!

“An upstart and a charlatan. Empires have been built by less. Those on the margins often come to control the centre and those in the centre make room for them, willingly or otherwise.” BEST POWER GRAB EVER LITERALLY CHILLING and I’m not even miserable that we had more magic thrown around because it was done so well and you know what I’m glad they’re giving Dany something to be scared of and Xaro was kind of awesome, let’s watch that again

– House of the Undying is actually a party house where everyone will get drunk and dance. This is not true. But wouldn’t it be nice for Dany to take her people to the beach for a change? All they do is work and stress and die.

– OH OH OH BRIENNE “Keep your hands off me, woman!” “Don’t enter without an invitation, MAN.” GOD I LOVE HER.

– One of the few times Catelyn Stark has actually been one of the most awesome people in the show. WELL PLAYED LADY. “Have you forgotten me, sir? I am the widow of your liege lord Eddard Stark, I am the mother of your king!”

“AND GAG HIM”

– I was wondering what was missing. Tyrion. TYRION. FINALLY.

– Stannis Baratheon’s fleet is moving. I may have rubbed my hands with glee at the prospect of what’s coming.

– That look of sudden, slight shame when Tyrion tells Cersei she’s quoting their father is marvellous. She just wants to be the female version of Tywin, that’s all! Lena Headey is tremendous and I never seem to mention that, but she is, and gets Cersei perfectly. She’s a twisted monster but glorious and wicked and distressing and completely convincing. Contrasting her with Catelyn is so much fun. “Sometimes I wonder… if this is the price for what we’ve done. For our sins.” Hint: YES, IT IS.

– Discussing Joffrey’s utter utter madness in the open like this is sweetly, delightfully painful. Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage being so awesome. Tyrion and Cersei: they may loathe each other but at the end of the day they’re still siblings, they still need each other, and Cersei still needs Tyrion’s support because she wants to be Tywin but the closest she has is her little brother who she detests but but but he’s her brother. I love how problematic their relationship is. They clearly enjoy acting together.

– Just had to pause the show to have a breather because Cat is about to annoy the crap out of me, I can tell. WELL ACTUALLY she didn’t I was wrong, I admit it.

“IS THAT A WOMAN” Brienne’s all “Dude, what”

“Where did you find this beast?” “She is a truer knight than you. Kingslayer.” BEAST >:O

– Ugh I hate it when they cut away during an intense scene because Jaime was being awesome and Cat was being a noble but slightly unhinged mother and Theon’s being a dick and yet I don’t want to look away, it’s like in the books when he changes PoV for each chapter, it’s “UGH NO I WANTED MORE oh no wait I love this one UGH NO IT’S CHANGED AGAI– no hold on I can’t put this down”.

– Well we all saw this coming and I don’t think anyone’s been taken in.

– ENDING MUSIC IS BRILLIANT AND YES THEON YOU ARE A MONSTER DOING MONSTROUS THINGS YOU UTTER SHIT OF A MAN look I’ll feel sorry for him later. He’s pathetic. He’s a pathetic person with power.

Well. I love how much I enjoy being emotionally beaten up by this show. Next week:

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 6: “The Old Gods And The New”

Well you are in for a bonus of Game of Thrones posts from me today and tomorrow. New computer for my birthday last week! This means I have a lot to catch up on. I’m watching this on an old monitor that is so dark it’s impossible to see half the screen so this should be fun.

So if you’re sitting comfortably, let’s begin. This is one brutal hour of telly, guys, so I hope you’re not feeling sensitive. Also it’s my favourite episode so far this series which says absolutely everything about me, really.

Who don’t we see? Sam, the gang on Dragonstone, Jaime (don’t panic he’s back next week), I think that’s it. For an episode that jumps around a lot it does very well at packing everyone it can into each scene without losing momentum. It’s probably the best script so far this season in that respect, though I feel like I have fewer quotes to latch on to.

– OH NO WINTERFELL SO WE’RE JUMPING STRAIGHT IN THEN OKAY GREAT I’m glad we’re finally seeing the point and purpose of ravens rather dramatically depicted onscreen. OH THEON YOU MASSIVE WANKER. “I’m a Greyjoy. I can’t fight for Robb and my father both.” Bran’s beautiful in this scene. The gulf between the both of them – Theon’s earnest, desperate demand for control and Bran’s calm, serene response – says everything. A man in charge never needs to stroll around reminding people of it. “Please, Theon, think what you do” pleads Maester Luwin, but to no avail, and we lose a brilliant soldier in front of screaming children. “Hush now, child. I’m off to see your father.” Sansa once screamed like Bran and Rickon are screaming, for Eddard. Fat lot of good that did too. That was the death of the father, this is the destruction of home and safety. WINTERFELL AIN’T SAFE NO MORE.

– Comparisons and contrasts between Theon, Joffrey and Eddard when it comes to executions now too obvious for words.

“GODS HELP YOU THEON GREYJOY” amazing music, amazing, and I’m traumatized and have to pause this to get some tea because holy crap that was brutal (I had three tea breaks in this episode because lol “brutal” barely begins to cover it)

“You start thinking you know this place, it’ll kill you” advises Qorin Halfhand. This applies to King’s Landing. And everywhere in Westeros. And probably the Free Cities come to think of it. clever writing. And I love this depiction of weary men at the arse end of the world, the lack of hope for anything better than a neat, comfortable death.

– Arya and Tywin’s interactions are delightful. “My cup-bearer can read better than you.” Arya is to Tywin what Sansa is to Cersei. Keep them too close, they’ll pick things up, learing things you don’t want your enemies to learn. WHAT IS PETYR DOING HERE DOES HE HAVE SOME SORT OF WORMHOLE TECHNOLOGY IN HIS POCKET OR SOMETHING the man is everywhere. If I didn’t know better I’d think it very suspicious. Oh wait, it’s Littlefinger, hahaha is he ever NOT suspicious. He’s completely outmatched by Tywin – you can see it annoy him. “More wine for Lord Baelish.” GOSH DID HE RECOGNISE HER. DID HE. Why else would he be there, I’m struggling to work this out.

– Jon Snow is not a ninja. I think we knew this. HELLO DOWNTON ABBEY LADY. She is very good. I think we knew that she would be. “I’m as much a crow as they are” Jon Snow says, clearly not meaning it. Kit Harington is rather excellent even though they’ve made Snow so much more emo than he is in the books. I am having Star Wars flashbacks. Never mind. Also why would Qorin leave someone as young and green as Jon is to execute a pretty girl unless he meant for this to happen? I can’t remember it being as silly as this in the book. But it’s a nice character-developing sort of silly so I’ll let it go.

– I want to quote the look that Tyrion gives Cersei after her threat but THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE IS IT damn this is so limiting. BUT YES TYRION YES. YES. “I saw you cry,” Sansa says pointedly. Joffrey is appalled. He’s marvellous. ACTING PRIZES FOR JACK GLEESON PLEASE. “Come on, dog,” while Sandor looks distant and Cersei looks cross.

– AND CHAOS ERUPTS THIS IS GREAT let’s just watch the madness as Joffrey gets to act the crap out of it “I WANT THESE PEOPLE EXECUTED” “THEY WANT THE SAME FOR YOU” and oh my god they ripped him up THIS IS CRAZY AWESOME AND “WHERE’S SANSA” oh she’s slightly dishevelled but doing fine escape work OH SANDOR ROCK THE FUCK ON oh she’s not doing so well now there are scary men after her RUN SANSA RUN

“We’ve had vicious kings, and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know it we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!”

“AND NOW I’VE STRUCK A KING did my hand fall from my wrist?”

– TYRION IS JUST WINNING SO HARD HE’S MAKING THE REST OF THE CAST LOOK BORING AND MUNDANE AND IN THIS SHOW THAT IS AMAZING BECAUSE THEY REALLY AREN’T

– GO SANSA GO HOLY SHIT WHAT THIS IS INSANE SHE’S JUST OH MY GOD SANDOR

– EPIC

– WIN

“All right, little bird, you’re all right” WELL NOT REALLY IF I’M HONEST

“Well done, Clegane.” “I didn’t do it for you.”

– THERE’S NO POINT COMMENTING ON ANY OF THAT IS THERE this is a moment for another tea break while I watch it again to get the quotes right because damn guys that was intense and Sophie Turner is tremendous and everyone’s awesome and good lord that was as good as it was in the books, I don’t even miss Lollys. Filming that must have been crazy for poor Sophie. She’s just ickle!

– Dany and Xaro bantering. She has such loathing on her face as she gazes up at the staircase, it’s marvellous. “She has a talent for drama, this one.” Lols. I do not think Daenerys likes being called “little princess” by a quibbling fat man asking hard questions. I mean, who would? That man is so patronizing I’m amazed she’s not sicced a dragon on him yet.

– Another person being undervalued? Arya Stark. Except there’s this sense that Tywin in particular values her more than he should, even while overlooking her. I don’t know what to make of this. “What killed him?” “Loyalty.” “You’re a sharp little thing, aren’t you?” AREN’T YOU. ISN’T SHE. Oh wait I’ve worked it out – this is why she doesn’t ask for Jaqen to kill him. I think she actually likes him. And she’s yet to understand the wider ramifications of power. And god did we just get a scene that makes Tywin even slightly sympathetic? In a “well he’s not a complete bastard but when it comes to magnificent arseholes” way? This show is insane.

– Jaqen is so hot I can’t actually make any judgements except bwahaha eye roll LOL BEST ENTRANCE EVER bye Amory Loch, you massive bastard. Look at this point. That is what Jaqen does to me. Let’s have more Jaqen so Ewa loses her ability to make coherent points, yes? Oh wait I can redeem it – Jaqen is killing people FOR Arya while Jon Snow can’t kill at all and Theon messes it up and so on and so forth and no one is living up to Eddard’s rather simple, clean, effective, just standard as set out at the beginning. There. That’s a point. Oh I do love Jaqen.

– Oh Robb, you charmer. I approve of this version of Jeyne. So much more understandable than in the books. Oh Robb.

– CATELYN STARK, COCKBLOCKING

– MORE BRIENNE PLEASE

“You’re brave. Stupid, but brave.”

“Stop moving. STOP IT” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA THIS IS HILARIOUS POOR JON SNOW I love her smirk. Rock on Ygritte.

– Oh poor Robb 😦 your best friend is a turncoat. And now his mother’s shouting I TOLD YOU SO and it’s too much for the poor boy. Oh no not the Bolton bastard OH GOD I DON’T THINK I COULD COPE WITH THE BASTARD OH MY GOD REEK NO

– Theon having to remind YET ANOTHER PERSON that he’s trying to be more than a “lord”. My screen is too dark for this. I think there are boobs here. Boobs are Theon’s great weakness. Oh wow yes lots of naked lady here. Is anyone surprised? Yes? No. Okay.

– OH WOW SHAE AND SANSA. “If the wrong people hear you!” “But you’re not the wrong people.” “Don’t trust anybody. Life is safer that way.” Best scene. Both characters are strong – Sansa doesn’t understand the hate, Shae shows some honesty beneath the gloss, it’s all about Sansa coming to terms with the brutality of a world Shae knows too well. It’s a lovely scene, weirdly, and highlights why I like Sansa so much. If she’d had bread she’d have given it to him, but obviously she doesn’t understand what all of that was about. She will though. She will. And Shae IS “the wrong people”, so the advice she’s giving Sansa is right. And yet Sansa in all honesty just wants to do good and be good. Poor doll.

– Osha is cooler than I remember too. This episode belongs to the women. Especially the wildling women. I love that Osha outwitted Theon with her tits. Outtitted. God she’s fabulous. Rock on Osha. Did anyone else do a bit of an air punch or seat dance when they snuck out? Just me? Okkkkaaaaay.

– The changes to Xaro’s character are tremendous and perfect and wow drama

– WAIT WHAT

– NO NOT IRRI 😦 😦 😦

– WHAT IS THIS, I DON’T UNDERSTAND

– Well whatever, I trust you, Game of Thrones producers. I will not pass comment on these massive diversions from the text when they’re framed as cliffhangers. My cliff is well and truly hung though, I can tell you that.

AND NEXT WEEK

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 5: “The Ghost Of Harrenhal”

Hello. Spoilers and hints of spoilers below. Watch the tv show, you’ll be okay. Even better if you’ve read up to book 3, A Storm Of Swords. Even though it’s so vaguely spoilery it’s probably okay, this can wait until you’re all caught up. ❤

Apologies for the lateness of this one. I’ve been ill. What better way to get back my health than to return to the sweetness and light of Westeros, eh? Even considering the big sudden death at the beginning and the sly demise at the end, this is a more humorous episode than usual, especially after last week, which is weird considering that first death especially. But hey, there are a ton of locations for this episode to rip through so if it feels a bit jumbled it’s understandable. I actually prefer this episode to last week’s purely because various characters improved and unfurled themselves in ways that interested me but overall, last week’s felt oddly stronger and more solid. This episode isn’t bad, it’s just spread very, very wide.

Wide, that is, but not wide enough for Jaime, Robb, Varys, Shae or Sansa to get a look-in this episode. We also get to skip Joffrey, though we get to see Rickon again, bashing nuts, because Rickon has so much anger in him and the nuts deserved it, okay!

– Episode starts off with Renly saying everything we want him to say about letting Robb rule the north as long as they take out the Lannisters which OBVIOUSLY means he’s not going to survive the scene, OBVIOUSLY, and may I say that Brienne’s roar of despair is the greatest thing? Oh Brienne, sweetheart, you need a massive hug. The shadow creature was brilliantly rendered and the scene was done so well, from a reader’s perspective; it’s more subtle in the book, but I preferred it this way.

– I like that they’ve given Loras at least a modicum of intelligence. “Brienne of Tarth murdered Renly.” “I don’t believe that, you don’t believe that!” Also: props to Littlefinger for his schemeface. He does good schemeface. You can see the cogs turning even as he speaks. “What do you desire most in this world?” “Revenge.” “I have always found that to be the purest of motivations.” Isn’t it confusing how honest he is, yet how sneaky at the same time? Clever boy. The viewers know what he means about “the purest of motivations” because it’s his. We’re not given much time to mourn the one popular man who could have been a half-decent monarch who was closest to the throne; instead we’re shown how others closest to him mourn. Loras looks like he’s throwing a massive strop, Littlefinger’s scheming, Margaery is scheming but also quite put out that her path to power’s been choked off, Brienne is devastated, his brother Stannis is mildly troubled but doesn’t want to think about it. And us, the audience? Shocked, but that’s just for the moment, because there’s plenty going on this episode and it’s weirdly almost forgotten about.

“Do you want to be a queen?” “No. I want to be the queen.” And there, right there, at that moment, I become a Margaery fangirl. And dare I say it, so does Littlefinger. I take it that’s our fill of Tyrells until season 3? Farewell guys, can’t wait until you come back into the game!

– For the first time in ages, King’s Landing looks beautiful. “Myrcella’s a sweet, innocent girl and I don’t blame her at all for you.” This show is giving me such a taste for stories about pretty places being nests of vipers. “It’s important,” Tyrion says, so carefully, asking Cersei to put her pride aside for the good of the city, “that we talk about this.” Cersei’s son is the king, what need have they of her scheming little brother? “It’s the king’s prerogative to withhold sensitive information from his councillors,” she says, smiling into her wine. God you guys need to have more scenes where you hate each other and only barely manage to be polite, it’s so juicy.

– Lancel and Tyrion crammed into a box talking more schemes is just the funniest thing. “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you cousin?” “No!” “That’s a lie right there.” Tyrion enjoys Lancel’s discomfort so much so that we the viewers do too. Tyrion is magic in every scene, he really is. “Even torturing you is boring!” And yay for wildfire, it’s half way through this series leading up to the wildfire-heavy climactic battle at the end of the series so I love the casual references they’re dropping along the way. Though I don’t remember this being a Cersei/Joffrey (eww) plan in the books, it gives Tyrion every excuse to be sneaky and snarky, and lord knows that’s one of this series’ strong points.

“I grieve for him too, for the boy he was, not the man he grew to be.” Family gone wrong, the Baratheons, even as much as the Lannisters are a family gone wrong in the other direction. Poor Davos. You can see the cogs turning in Littlefinger’s mind as things progress, but with Davos, you can see his loyalty warring with his belief in the rightness of things. Sublime acting. And again, foreboding mention of the taking of the Blackwater, leaving without the “foreigner” Melisandre, Davos knee deep in it all: shit’s a-stirring. “Hard truths cut both ways, Ser Davos.”

– DUDE that looks just like the man from The Crystal Maze! Oh my god he’s a crazy preacher being crazy about the truth! This is wicked. “It’s hard to argue with his assessment.” “Not after what he did to your birthday present.” “The king is a lost cause. It’s the rest of us I’m worried about now.” And Tyrion’s face at the demon monkey comment. Honest confusion from one of the few people in this show who are actually trying to be good. Poor Tyrion.

– Theon making an ass of himself again. You’d have thought after so long with Eddard and Robb he’d have worked out at least a part of this leadership issue, but no. And look, he’s making an ass of himself all over with his delusions of grandeur… the swell of music as he puts two and two together to come up with his plan, the self-satisfied smirk he shares with the man who’s planted the seed of the idea, oh it’s enough to make me hate him twice over. But then I know what’s coming. If he’d read up to A Dance With Dragons he’d probably decide against this course of action. Oh the benefit of hindsight.

– Arya serving table while great men discuss her families and plans and she’s being a mouse, can’t you just see it? A complete mouse. With fangs. “Girl! Where are you from?” and for a moment everyone goes “!!!”. For some reason Tywin likes this girl, even though she’s a Northerner who’s lied to him. He was so much less forgiving with his own cousin who just wanted to sleep. “Anyone can be killed,” she says in response to his questioning about Robb and his fame, which sends shivers down everyone’s backs. Tywin looks almost proud for a moment, Arya the closest to defiant she’s looked for quite a while, and they take a moment to try to get a measire of each other’s character. Ooooh shudder.

– JAQEN HELLO. “Friends may talk in secret, yes?” Yes, you scary rogue. “A man pays his debts. A man owes three.” A man needs to make being a mysterious scary rogue less sexy, y’hear?

– Hello Jon Snow and friends in the Beyond The Wall sitcom further north (and at this point the filming set in Iceland comes into its own because holy hell, that’s an amazing setting). Honestly had no idea which bit of the books we were up to with these guys until Sam stands up and shouts “THE FIST OF THE FIRST MEN” which was massively useful, thank you, Tarly. “Before I die, please, stop talking,” mumbles Dolorous Edd who is clearly allergic to exposition. Conversation turns to the First Men. “I think they came here to get away from something,” says Jon Snow who is the source of all joy, “but I don’t think it worked.”

– From ice to fire. Tyrion’s with a Pyromancer discussing the potency of wildfire. “Our order does not deal in pig shit!” Delightful work from an actor who’s both a friend of George RR Martin himself and the voice of the audiobooks. “You won’t be making wildfire for my sister any longer. You’ll be making it for me.” Love it when Tyrion asserts himself. I keep forgetting that he’s not the size of the other men in the show; you never forget it in the books, but he has such presence in the TV series it’s easy to forget.

– Daenerys is fed and rested and restored! And so are her dragons, apparently, though not her handmaidens. “She’s not a princess, she’s a Khaleesi!” And there’s so much about this scene in Qarth that makes me laugh I can’t possibly dissect it like they want to dissect that golden peacock. Although the minute the Warlock appears I’m all “HE’S JUST LIKE LOKI” which is troubling on so many levels. But what a creepy guy he is, it’s excellent. And the masked lady – ugh it’s all a bit much so soon but it’s lovely that Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke have proper acting to do now, it’s so much more satisfying. I like these scenes in Qarth. I wonder how much time Dany’s got to linger there.

– Oh Brienne, sweetheart ❤ I love this scene. Cat’s hardly one of my favourite characters but it’s so easy to feel for them both here, the acting is so reserved and realistic on both sides. “You serve nothing and no one by following him into the earth” is as much about Ned as it is about Renly. “You have courage. Not battle courage, perhaps, but I don’t know, a woman’s kind of courage.” This is about Cat and Sansa and Cersei as much as anyone. “Then I am yours, my lady.”

– Omfg it’s Bran sending orphan boys to look after a flock. I really hope that’s not what it echoes in the book. And Rickon’s back, aiming to misbehave, smashing nuts to smithereens because why not? He can. And Bran gets to behave like a proper leader (Rodrik Cassel’s little glimmer of a smile at Bran’s “If we can’t protect our own bannermen, why should they protect us?” just warms the cockles of my heart). And doom’s a-coming. *Sadface*

– So are we not getting Meera and Jojen? Come on, Bran needs the company.

“They say all sorts of crazy things north of the Wall,” says Osha, who is totally not telling Bran what he needs to know about the three-eyed crow, and then there we are north of the Wall, where Halfhand is doing anything but saying crazy things. What’s going to happen is this: Jon Snow’s off ranging with the kick-ass Halfhand. Nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong. Sam’s little half-smile-and-shrug when he offers to do Jon’s job while he’s out ranging is adorable. His PoV in the books never really interested me but the actor invests him with so much warmth he’s hard to dislike.

– Xaro is easily one of my favourite characters now. Easily. It’s not often that changing a character so drastically is an improvement but, here, it is. The actor is superb. All of these actors are superb. This is ridiculous. I’m running out of ways to say that these actors are impressing me!

– Jorah tells Dany to win Westeros on her own, without foreign involvement. He also tells her she’s wicked cool and fancies her. Well, almost.

– May have just made a strange noise when the camera panned up to show Gendry dipping his sword in the bucket of water, I cannot lie. MORE OF THAT, GAME OF THRONES PRODUCERS. Oh good lord I don’t think there’s been a single tit this entire episode. That’s amazing. I’m amazed. But back to Gendry. More of that, yes? Yes.

– Arya wins everything. “You’re practising for a fight. You should practise right.” And then her expression as she looks down at the man she killed with a word? Oh yes. Wins everything. Although the Ghost of Harrenhal of the episode’s title is arguably Jaqen, not Arya, though the ghosts might be the memories Tywin stirs up with his questioning? Goodness. I don’t even know.

Things of note:

– Fire is power. Dragons are fire made flesh. The Lannisters have filled King’s Landing with fire. No good can come of this, we all know, but what a nice way to draw strands together.

– For a PoV character, Sansa is getting overlooked. Her storyline is more subtle than, say, Arya’s, so in a way I understand, but it’s still frustrating.

– Gwendoline Christie as Brienne. Yessssss. Also: how amazing is it that a child Maisie Williams’ age can hold her own in a staring stand-off with Charles Dance? The casting is phenomenal and the acting is so good I want to hug everyone.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”

OH HEY HI only read this if you a) have seen this week’s Game of Thrones and b) if you don’t mind me alluding to things that happen in the books that are a little spoilery but only vaguely and if you squint. If you want to go away and come back once you’re caught up, that’s fine, I don’t judge. x

Ladies and gentlemen and everything in between, I welcome you to episode 4 of season 2 of Game of Thrones, also known as episode 14 or ‘Garden of Bones’. YES, TIME FOR MORE SWEETNESS AND LIGHT ❤ it’s a packed episode so there’s LOTS of things that they’ve built towards with a few bits that those of us who’ve read ahead most likely weren’t expecting. But the pay-off is good and dudes I am so, so into this episode. It was satisfying. And dark.

This episode is packed with Starks (Bran, Jon Snow, Theon, Jaime and Cersei sit this one out, though the casket containing Ned’s bones gets a cameo) while Joffrey is being a little shit and Melisandre is completely naked again. And other things. Well, you know.

– HARRENHAL. In the opening credits! God it looks GOOD. QARTH! Oh hell I just squee’d.

“Do you hear that?” “No.” Oh hi normal people of Westeros, it’s good to see you being real people. And dying. Well, shit.

– Golly, it’s so good to see Robb again. Missed him more than I thought. What a fabulous opening, effective and cost-saving as well (you just know the Battle of Blackwater is going to kick ass). Battle of Whispering Wood: DONE. Bolton is WONDERFULLY sinister, suggesting torture by referring to his family’s motto – the flayed man. After reading A Dance With Dragons, even his voice sounds dark and shadowy and full of malice. Amazing casting. I hate him.

– “Jeyne Westerling”? Is that you? She has an actual character now! She’s from Volantis! She’s critical of our hero! I approve. Sadly. I approve sadly. What better way to fall in love than over a struggling enemy soldier having his leg hacked off? I love you, Robb. You’d be killer at speed dating. Look at him being all nice and honorable and decent like his dad. Oh just look at him. My heart is so heavy for that boy.

– Oh poor Sansa. “Leave her face! I like her pretty.” She’s being beaten for being Robb’s sister, because this series is all about families and power, and now Sansa has none of either and is suffering for that exact reason. It’s brutal. Sandor Clegane rips his cloak off to cover her! What a detail.

“LADY STARK. YOU MAY SURVIVE US YET,” says Tyrion, wonderingly, as Sansa walks from the room in which her betrothed has had her stripped and beaten in front of the court with her head held high. OH TYRION YES. I love Tyrion’s scenes with everyone, but he’s so good with Sansa. He understands, even if she doesn’t, and even though he feels awful for her, there’s a tinge of awe there as well. How many other teenage girls could have weathered an atrocious scene like that?

“You think dipping his wick will cure what ails him?” “There’s no cure for being a c*nt.” Bronn, you star.

– Joffrey’s a little shit, but we knew that. He is brilliantly dark and menacing though, and Jack Gleeson REALLY deserves some kind of recognition for his acting. He is unsettling and frightening, which is crazy given how young he is. I love hating him, I really do, because in every scene he delivers both by being outrageously and subtly evil.

“My favourite whoremonger” do you know many whoremongers, Renly? I love his loathing for Littlefinger, I’m not sure it’s in the books, but this tv series is just instilling within me a deep love for watching characters who hate each other force themselves to have a polite conversation riddled with barbs and sly insults. It’s SO MUCH FUN.

– WHAT have they put Natalie Dormer in. She’s been swallowed whole by that dress. “The marriage of a wealthy girl always breeds interest, if nothing else.” BURNNN.

– I love the world-building for the series, both book-wise and in the TV series; the details of the world are the best. The Garden of Bones indeed.

– HELLO ARYA AND GENDRY AND HOT PIE AND HARRENHAL oh god Harrenhal is a dump. An amazing dump. “What’s that smell?” “Dead people.” Arya’s already totally at ease with death. And this is clever plotting, having the events in the village with the torture/interrogation happen at Harrenhal. Wonderfully done, again, because EVERTHING IN THIS IS. And Arya’s little prayer, seen from above, as if the gods are watching. But she’s only a little girl, and that list gets longer.

– Oh my god they’ve put Cat and Littlefinger in the same room after his betrayal of Ned in S1 AND SHE’S DRAWN A BLADE ON HIM oh I used to not like Cat much but now I’m all hearts for her. “Both girls are healthy and safe, for now.” We all know he can’t be trusted, even when he’s declaring love for her, because he says crap like that. She knows he can’t be trusted because he misled her husband and Ned died as a result. But oh dear. Oh dear. He hits below the belt by praising Robb, and then even worse by giving her back Ned’s bones, because holy crap that not playing by the rules, that’s playing with her emotions. You bastard, Littlefinger. You’re awesome, but you’re a bastard. I hate how this isn’t Cat’s idea and decision any more; but at the same time, it makes sense, and it’s worth that scene where Cat gets to be angry again and Littlefinger gets to be shady some more.

– Garden of BONES yes very good. Also hello Ned, nice to not see you again, wish it were in better circumstances.

– Oh wow, rats! Steel bucket! Flames! What a torture scene. THANKS GUYS. REALLY. That’s just SO unpleasant.

– YES Renly, Stannis, Melisandre, Davos and Cat having a bit of a chat, this will be all pleasantries and compliments, won’t it! Oh, wait.

– So here’s the issues of families rearing its head again. Cat’s comment about how Renly and Stannis are behaving shows her love for her own family, and her utter trust in the emotional ties between her children – even though she and her sister are so distant from one another, and she’s rejected Jon so completely. “Would you believe,” says Renly, bitterly, “I loved him once.” Which makes next week and the ramifications of what is ultimately weakness on Stannis’ part all the worse. Much as Cat wants to believe otherwise, her family unit isn’t the best, and it definitely isn’t the most secure any more.

– It’s a little thing but Carice van Houten’s delivery of “the night is dark and full of terrors” thrills me every time.

– The Qarth plot I always found very weird in the books so I’m so interested in how this will go down onscreen. At any rate, I am glad as hell that Dany’s wanderings in the desert are over for the time being, because it’s a bit tedious and they’re a bunch of fab actors so they need something to do other than look hungry, stressed and smudged in bright sunlight. And OH GOD loved it, but of course I would, because those Thirteen were freaky cool and Xaro marvellous and the moment where the gates opened to the city was the best moment of special effects in the episode partly because of Dany’s expression of delight and satisfaction and RELIEF. Emilia Clarke does “angry” very well.

– GENDRY. God they actually had me worried for a minute there. Also: Charles Dance does the best Acting From A Horse In Armour. It’s quite splendid. He radiates imperiousness anyway, but on a horse, in armour, he’s unparalleled. Tywin meeting Arya and complimenting her for being smart and meaning it is just… it’s so perfect. And he doesn’t want just anyone for his cup-bearer, he wants the smart girl. Tywin likes people around him to be clever. You can see why Cersei is so determined to be like him, and how massively she’s failing – and you can easily imagine she never got told she was smart, not he just did to a stranger, a little girl in handcuffs. And clever villains are the most terrifying and the best sort of villains to have, really, from a reader/viewer perspective. Clever villains are obviously shit if you’re the hero.

– The complete and utter disgust with which Lancel treats Tyrion is hilarious given they’re cousins, Lancel is shagging Tyrion’s elder sister, and Tyrion is in all ways his superior. Talk about strong family ties. And then that moment of shock as Tyrion gets to the heart of the matter, which he dismisses as trivial because it’s Tyrion, and Tyrion is trivial in Lancel’s eyes. And then the utter panic as Tyrion’s all “dude, I get the jist, quit playin'”. “It’s not my fault!” he bleats, in a scene that is a classic Tyrion take-down and he strops out and has tears in his eyes and GUYS IT’S GLORIOUS. “Wait here,” he deadpans, “His Grace will want to hear this.” You troll, T. Iloveyou. Lancel’s exasperated face as he rubs the bridge of his nose, defeated, recruited, is a marvel.

“I could swear that I have not harmed a single hair on his head, but that, strictly speaking, wouldn’t be true…” TYRION’S LINE OF THE NIGHT

“Cleaner ways don’t win wars.” For all he’s a rigid, humorless ass of a man, Stannis is desperate. He’s all for rules when they work for him but the numbers are against him, so he’s fine with breaking the rules using some dirty tricks. Davos is a genuinely good man doing questionable things for his king, and Liam Cunningham gets his inner conflict dead on. Stannis is insecure, at heart, and so he has no problem doing bad, bad things to make things “right”. The lesser evil, to him, but the greatest thing about this show is how it shows that there’s no one true king, no one true way, no one truth, no one good. The Starks want to kill Lannisters, Lannisters want to kill Starks, Baratheons want to rip each other apart, the Greyjoys are a simmering mass of resentment, Bolton wants to flay a bitch, and Dany just wants to kill everyone – and we end up rooting for all of them in some way (except Bolton, obv). So Stannis thinks he’s right and will do anything he can to do that – even though it’s bad from almost every other perspective. But he’s so sure he’s right. And he’s an ass.

– Melisandre’s darkest moment so far, and it’s so well done I’m full of glee even though it’s, well, a demon birth. Hey, Cat’s a mum to real children, even Cersei’s children are human even if Joff’s a monster, while Mel is mother to the CREEPIEST DEMON SHADOW THING EVER. Obviously good things will happen now. OBVIOUSLY. Because when you give birth to demon shadow babies RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS OCCUR.

Next week is “The Ghost of Harrenhal”. Maybe my prediction of rainbows and unicorns is a bit premature.