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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.

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Game of Thrones season 2 Episode 1: “The North Remembers”

HAVE YOU SEEN THE EPISODE?

NO?

THIS POST IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS, OLD MAN, BUT WATCHING IT BURNS THEM ALL AWAY.

I.E., come back later. I will save all the juicy bits for you, I swears.

*

The problem with Game of Thrones in a tv series format is that, unlike the books, your doses of it are rationed, wrapped up in adverts and divided into chunks that are delivered to you on a schedule you can’t change. I’m re-reading A Feast For Crows and last night, at 2am, I was having incredible difficulty putting the book down and going to sleep because I just didn’t want to stop reading no matter how tired I was – and now I’m on the verge of re-watching the first episode of Game of Thrones season 2 (or episode 11 as it is) having only watched it a couple of hours ago. It’s so moreish and addictive you just want to immerse yourself in it, but you CAN’T, because you have to WAIT.

And oh GOD I don’t want to wait. I want the entire series put before my eyes right now. You’d expect season 2 of a returning big-hitter show like Game of Thrones to have a few pacing issues, seeing as returning characters have to be juggled with new ones and new settings join the old, but at no point does it misstep or feel uneven or off, not even a bit. It’s so finely tuned that I was shocked when the credits rolled, not just because of the shocking events (truly, this series knows when to hold back and hint, and when to just bludgeon you over the head with the nasty) but because I thought it was barely halfway through. How does it do that? It’s annoying. I’m desperate for next week now, desperate!

What do we get for our hotly-anticipated first hour in Westeros since the events at the end of the first series? Well. WELL.

We see Sansa in the lion’s den, practising the only self-defence she has, using it to save a drunken old fool; we see the dark and delightful Melisandre vamping around the new setting of the storm-blasted Dragonstone, a shadowy castle steeped in the history of Westeros, in a brilliant atmospheric scene of the Seven Gods being burned on the beach. For the night is dark and full of terrors.” We see how Cersei deals with her revolting son Joffrey and how Cat deals with her far more noble son Robb, and the differences between them, and the similarities as each mother tries to control her son and in turn is controlled by them. We see Tyrion vs. Cersei, a bout of verbal sparring that made me love Tyrion even more (how this could be I do not know, I thought I loved him too much already), and we see Littlefinger vs Cersei, in a bout of verbal sparring that causes her to lash out with actual violence. “Knowledge is power.” “Power is power.” We see Jaime in chains, Robb standing tall, and the huge CGI direwolf Grey Wind who runs at his side.

For a re-introduction to the world, the characters and the plot, it’s meaty and layered and rich, like the very best pie. Most pies don’t come laced with death, however.

Who orders the deaths of Robert’s bastards? We’re led to think it’s Joffrey, but I think it’s different in A Clash of Kings. They’re brutal scenes, absolutely gut-wrenching in a way that completely evaded me in the books. In hindsight it’s all there – I remember it as just a few throw-away remarks – but the ramifications of the order aren’t gone into in the text. On screen it’s horrendous, a fitting way to begin a series that’s going to be all about the brutality that men do one another. Let’s face it, the whole of Game of Thrones has always been about that, with Sansa (and, later, Brienne) filled with dreamy idealism about the goodness of man, while the steady ruination of it all makes it clear the world’s a nasty place and she needs to be strong to survive it. But those children aren’t, and it’s a hard, harsh world, and it’s a stunning way to reiterate that point after the drama of the first season.

And there, at the end, the little ray of hope – Arya, who Cersei’s spent the episode looking for, and Gendry, who is being hunted down like the rest of Robert’s bastards to be slaughtered. There they are, trekking up the Kingsroad towards the Wall, away from the rat’s nest that is King’s Landing, away from all the politics and danger and bloodshed–

–oh, wait. We know better than to assume that, don’t we?

Damnit, I don’t want to wait for next week!

Sansa Stark Rocks. Fact.

This post contains spoilers for the end of Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords. Basically, if you haven’t read Storm of Swords Part 1 yet, you should probably back off now and come back later. I’ll save the juicy bits for you. Promise.

I am Sansa Stark.

Most women are Sansa Stark. She’s not violent, strong or powerful in the least – she’s normal and totally alone, with no dragons, swords or even a pet wolf to protect her. She’s not touched by magic to make her greater than the surrounding characters. She lacks even a family to support her, and those who claim that they’re on her side are using her to their own ends – which she sees, and she knows, but she can’t escape.

Because she’s an average girl. She’s been thrown into a complete mess of a situation at such a young age it’s amazing she’s not gone off the deep end, and she’s as quick and subtle with her mind as Arya shows all the promise of being with a blade. So, she’s not me (I am about as quick and subtle as a crowbar), but she’s the closest character to who I was at her age and I love her dearly – as annoying as she is at first, she is a child who is growing up in the most insane, grim situation and she’s becoming a fascinating character. I don’t just like her where others detest her; I actually, properly adore the child. She’s fantastic.

Just to reiterate: she is a child.

So many people hate her for making the choices of a child, choosing Joffrey over her family on the Kingsroad, but to her mind she’s choosing between her bratty little sister and the prince she’s been brought up and cultivated like a hot-house flower to adore. Society has given her a reason to put knights and royalty on a pedestal, and she’s all about the unrealistic fairytale. How is she, or any of us, supposed to know the ramifications of her actions? Having to stop and think about the consequences is part of growing up. If anyone reads the books and chooses to see her as nothing else but a bland spoiled princess, they’re missing a wonderful, dark, rich plot that is my favourite in the books for the sheer subtlety and genius of it.

Her experience at King’s Landing at the end of Game of Thrones is her first taste of real court politics. Boy, has she learned her lesson by the end of that book, so brilliantly rendered in the tv series with Sansa’s direct and unyielding gaze at her father’s head on the spike – a scene so powerful it gave me goosebumps. The stripping away of the layers and layers of hopes and dreams that made her the bratty girl she was at the beginning of the book is a harrowing experience, and people complaining that Sansa Stark is boring to read really do my head in. Seriously, she’s boring because she’s not stabbing stable boys? Her strength isn’t in any of the masculine traits. She knows that people aren’t great or good as they are in the stories, but she still lets herself hope that there’s a kernel of goodness in people, and she’s steel inside. She’s the deconstruction of the typical princess in fantasy literature, the truest rendering, the princess to Brienne’s warrior woman. She’s going through hell and she’s going to become amazing.

I mean, who never made stupid ass choices as a child? I know I did, and the learning from those mistakes makes you a better person. That’s exactly what’s happening to Sansa. She’s learning, evolving, and totally has it in for the Lannisters. She’s going to be glorious to watch as she grows up and uses what she’s learned – writing her off because she did something wrong is awful, and no one would write off a child for being silly unless they’re truly heartless. Cersei keeps saying that Sansa’s a silly girl or some variant thereof and I get the impression that many readers assume this is fact, not Cersei’s opinion. The girl isn’t stupid. She’s more of a queen than Cersei is, as she proves at the Battle of Blackwater in Clash of Kings when Cersei leaves the hall and Sansa chooses to comfort the women whose husbands and families are out fighting. I have no idea how things will develop (UGH who does with this series) but I’m willing to bet Sansa comes out on top.

Oh, and on another note, Tyrion. I truly hate the dislike for Sansa based on her dealings with Tyrion. She’s 13, alone, her father’s been killed in front of her, her younger sister is missing and presumed dead, her ideal boy is actually a complete shit who has his men beat her for saying the wrong thing, she’s belittled by his mother the queen (who also ordered her innocent pet wolf killed), she’s without a single person to advise her – and they force her, the bright-eyed optimistic girl with her head full of dreams, to marry an ugly dwarf whose family have been the architects of all her woes. She’s 13, and no one aged 13 should be confronted with this situation. Yes, I love Tyrion. Sansa doesn’t have to, because to her mind his family murdered hers, and this is as near legalized rape as you can get (and, what, she should be GRATEFUL he doesn’t force himself on her now?!). It’s horrendous. And she doesn’t get to read his point of view – she can’t just magically know that this guy isn’t an actual monster, the inversion of Joffrey. He’s a Lannister. He’s not on her side. For Sansa, it’s pretty simple.

And if you want a less rambling, more coherent perspective on all this, this video is amazing amazing AMAZING and explains the Battle of Blackwater scene SO WELL:

Just to add: I’m totally fine with people not liking characters because they don’t click with them. Jon Snow annoys the hell out of me; as Sansa is the GRRM equivalent of the princess stereotype, Jon is the GRRM equivalent of the heroic farmer’s boy. I dislike that character type intensely, though the plot is developing him in much more interesting ways so I have less dislike for him than for, say, Rand al’Thor. So many people hold him up as being fantastic where Sansa’s got all the hate. Dislike a character because they don’t click for you, that’s fine; don’t hate a character for stupid reasons though. Otherwise I get sniffy and write epic blog posts, apparently.

Sansa rocks. She will grow to rock harder. End of.

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Some more Sansa links I highly recommend:

In Defence of Sansa Stark

She longed for a prince in the cold keep and behold, Prince Joffrey shows up on her doorstep. She had to think it was meant to be. He was handsome and charming, and she was blinded by her dream world. She’s young – just 11 in the books – and the news that she would be leaving the dark north for the capital city of Westeros would be enough to dazzle any child. Add the betrothal to the prince arranged by her father and King Robert, and the situation is hopeless. Every silly, improbable fantasy of Sansa’s actually happens. Who wouldn’t allow themselves to be swept away in a similar situation?

Sansa Stark is a strong character (no, really)

If Sansa is overly concerned with fairy-tale ideals, her beauty, and her gods, it’s not because she’s a stupid little girl — it’s because that’s literally all she has left to depend on, small hope as it is. She’s clinging to her innocence because that’s the only thing she hasn’t lost.

Sansa Stark

But there are more ways than one to show strength in Westeros. This woman shows her own strength of character and incredible growth over the series without ever learning how to wield a sword. It’s time to talk about how much I love Sansa Stark.

F*ckYesSansaStark

Images from tumblr.