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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.

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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 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.

Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

 Well hells you guys. I don’t think this is spoilery but I do allude to things that happen in the books so if you haven’t read at least as far as A Storm Of Swords I want you to take a good, hard look at yourself and then come back later when you have. Or if you’re not bothered about the books, that’s just peachy.

So basically this extremely strong episode was all the trolls trollin’, the bitches bitchin’ and cock blockin’ on a grand old scale. In other words; power, power, power, who’s got it, who wants it, and who’s just lost it.

The most important scene thematically is one between Varys and Tyrion, and it’s a scene I’ve been hungering for since the trailer; a discussion towards the end of the episode all about power, a riddle posed in the book that says everything about the power struggles in Westeros and the various approaches taken by the players of the game. A rich man, a holy man and a king are in a room with a sellsword, and each bid the sellsword kill the other two. Who does the sellsword obey? Who indeed. There’s no answer to this riddle, which is why Tyrion declares that he’s lost his taste for riddles, but it’s a juicy scene acted with delectable skill by two of my favourites. It’s a response to Tyrion’s trolling of the other whisper-mongers and spies in this episode, but it’s really about everyone in every part of the world of Game of Thrones, from Daenerys across the sea (who is understandably benched this episode, seeing as they’re still wading through a desert over there) to Robb (also benched) to Cersei and everyone, really. There’s no easy answer.

Shall I break this response down? Oh yes I do believe I shall.

“Like it or not, we need men like Craster!” Forced to play nice with a complete asshole of a man because they need his shelter. Mormont’s wrong, they don’t need men like Craster. They need what he can give. Doesn’t feel like Jon Snow really featured in this episode except to round off last week’s cliffhanger. All he had to do was be appalled at an appalling thing. Yawn.

– Now I like Sam, as tedious as his PoVs in the books can sometimes be. Here he’s giving what little comfort is in his power to give, and it’s a thimble. It’s cute. His fantastically happy grin when Gilly takes the thimble is entirely too adorable, it really is.

– Hodor has a connection with Summer, no? It’s almost a greeting when he sees the wolf, as if he knows Bran’s inside him. And check out Maester Luwin’s craving for “hidden powers” as a child – if only he knew Bran’s future! “Maybe magic once was a mighty force in the world, but not any more. The dragons are gone, giants are dead, and the Children of the Forest forgotten.” Dude.

– This whole episode is full of references back to the first episode of this second series, from the bout at Renly’s camp that introduces Brienne to Cersei’s “power is power” confrontation with Littlefinger. Here, in Renly, is a kinder, gentler king than that tremendous little shit Joffrey, as there’s no blood spilled in this match where someone died – and Ser Dontos was nearly killed – at Joffrey’s court. Here we get something closer to the chivalry that Sansa craves. And we also get Margaery, who KICKS ASS. In a non-violent way, obv. I love how into the fighting Margaery is and the gasps as Brienne removes her helm and how dour Cat is at Renly’s host’s frivolities and his sincerity as Renly promises Cat that he’ll avenge Ned’s death.

– Loras’ jealous face. Yeah, boy, you were beaten by a girl. Suck it uuuuppppp.

– Brienne vs Cat: “And you should kneel when you approach the king.” Cat vs Loras: “My son is fighting a war, not playing at one!” Basically, one big Cat fight. Renly: “Our war is just beginning.” Oh, babes, you don’t even know.

– OH BRIENNE. I bow to Gwendoline Christie’s fantastic depiction of one of my favourite characters in fiction. As a 6ft 1 girl the minute Brienne appeared in the series I was enamoured and I can’t wait to see more of her in this role, it was exactly what I wanted. She’s my new hero. A hero playing one of my heroes, I am in such a good fan space now. “And, if it please you, Brienne’s enough. I’m no ‘lady’.”

– Renly’s “praying”. OH, YES?

– Bloody Theon. I even feel sorry for him now, which only happened in the books in A Dance With Dragons. They’re running ahead of themselves but it makes sense on a book scale. Yara’s great but I miss her trolling tendencies; there needs to be more humour in her. That’s more a comment on the writing than the actress. Balon Greyjoy, meanwhile, is far too perfectly cast. I can’t even process it. He’s the Westeros version of Denethor! “You give her thirty and I get one?” “The Sea Bitch. We thought she’d be perfect for you.” It’s curious just how much Balon hates and is frustrated by Theon; he’s a reminder of how he had to bend knee once before. He’s staring his own past failure in the face. “You gave me away, your boy, your last boy!” The Greyjoys are all about pride.

– Shae’s a whiny one this episode. She gets to throw a tantrum! “Every man who’s tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am.” She’s a whore, but she’s still got airs as much as any noble born lady. Remember “I am not a kitchen wench!” because this is going to be important for another character coming up right about…

– Oh my poor darling Sansa. You can see her processing her situation, reacting as perfectly as she can. She’s learning from Cersei. Not learning to be Cersei, but learning how to assert herself and how to react to cues and keep as much of herself and her power as possible. Perfect acting. “Is Joffrey going to kill Sansa’s brother?” “He might. Would you like that?” “No. I don’t think so.” “Even if he does, Sansa will do her duty. Won’t you, little dove?” Completely out of her depth, she’s floundering, seeking footing, and almost finding it; she’s got no identity save as a Stark, a daughter of Winterfell, yet she’s far away from anyone and everyone who knows her, and her only power is in her own hands. And Tommen is such a little prince, so soft compared to Joffrey (another one benched, but for very good reason, considering next week’s episode). I love how carefully they’re building up Sansa’s soft, quiet hatred of Cersei. She’s terrified, absolutely beside herself with fear, but that hatred is totally there.

– Sansa staring into her mirror, her face a blur in a reflection of nothing.

– I love this scene with Shae. Shae, as we’ve seen, thinks she’s above everyone else; Sansa knows it, because she’s been brought up to believe it, and so obviously they’re going to clash. It’s marvellous and although it’s a big departure from the book (Lollys is gone) it’s really well thought out. Shae’s so full of attitude for someone supposed to blend in! Sansa’s doing all she can to keep all the power she’s been left with – that over her servants. She’s scrabbling for control over something, someone, and it just so happens that the only person she can assert herself over is Shae, who considers herself better than this situation she’s been put into. Two characters who can’t get themselves out of their current predicaments, and they’re hardly two characters who’d ever get along. Can’t wait for more scenes between them. I loved Sansa here, I bet she’s going to come in for some flack from that distant troglodyte corner of the internet that can’t stand girls being girls. Yes, Sansa’s bitchy, but she’s giving as good as she’s getting, and she’s so close to having a nervous breakdown you can see it in her eyes. “Do you want me to leave?” Sansa may dislike Shae as much as Shae dislikes her, but she’s desperate for company. Just look at those tears in her eyes. JUST LOOK AT THEM.

– If I see even one comment of the “Sansa deserves it” with regard to next episode’s events I am going to get so angry the Hulk will resign from the Avengers and beg them to take me on, I SWEARS.

– Tyrion is so skilled with his epic trolling. I know, I keep saying it, but no other phrase comes close. Brilliantly done.

– Loras and Renly are beeeaaauuutiful together. “You’re jealous!” “Jealous? Of Brienne the Beauty? Don’t make me laugh.” And there goes Loras with his cock blocking, because apparently you aren’t allowed to see men’s dangly bits in Westeros. Oh it’s frustrating. Also I wanted them to be the Rainbow Guard 😦 what happened there, was it too obvious HBO?

– Margaery is wicked, wicked cool, and it’s awesome that they’ve made her a player of the game so early in the series. This is the sort of lady Sansa can learn from. Natalie Dormer is a wonderful bit of casting – this whole series needs to win big time for the casting. “Or I can turn over and you can pretend I’m him?” AWW he’s so embarrassed, I wish he weren’t. “Your enemies aren’t happy about us. They want to tear us apart, and the best way to stop them is to put your baby in my belly.” She’s so into the game she’s not above suggesting a threesome! Totally a force to be reckoned with – she, unlike Cersei, can back up her power with real political acumen, from the look of things so far. It helps having the force of Highgarden behind you.

– Cersei is obsessed with paper. Obsessed. If she’s not ripping it she’s belittling other people for having it to hide behind. She’s so desperate for the upper hand she’s basically just a school bully clutching at every little thing she can hold over someone’s head, which makes her both desperately weak and terribly dangerous; paper is effectively a sign of legality in Westeros and we’ve literally seen her tear through all sorts of writing. Words are wind, is the saying that crops up in later books. In Cersei’s hands, words aren’t even that. “Power is power” indeed. She trusts steel over ink, which is where Tyrion has the edge on her, if only she’d stop fancying herself the femme Tywin and see it. Here, Tyrion’s gone behind her back with regard to marrying Myrcella off, and Cersei is so angry she lashes out at Tyrion because her words fail her. “It’s done, Cers. You can’t stop it.” She has problems both with spoken words and words on paper.

– Speaking of words, Theon burns his words to Robb, warning him of the impending assault on Deepwood Motte, signifying the end of his time as a hostage to the Starks. He burns his connection to the family. It’s so sad. I don’t want to like him because he’s horrible but all he wants is to belong somewhere, but he doesn’t belong anywhere, as he’s going to find out. Poor bb. And what is consumed by fire is signified with water as he’s “drowned” in a baptism to the Drowned God by Aeron Damphair. Oooh clever work there writers. Clever. “What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder, and stronger.” Well, there’s a thought that might give him some comfort in future.

– Hmmm Tyrion. I do wonder if they’re going to make the release of Jaime a Lannister/King’s Landing plot instead of a calculated move by Cat. Interesting, can’t say I’m entirely in favour of it but as ever with this series, it’s not something that can be judged ahead of time.

– Tyrion’s game gives him a victory over hoary old Pycelle. “Cut off his manhood, and feed it to the goats!” “There are no goats, halfman!” “Then make do!” And what a prize he gets, the near-admission that Pycelle stepped aside to let Jon Arryn die. The coins for the prostitute are a nice touch. “For your trouble.”

“Well played, my lord Hand.” I’d like this as a gif already. Scene made entirely of win and stitched through with genius, I mentioned this above, with the riddle. It’s appalling how good it is. Debate away, my friends. “When Ned Stark lost his head, who was truly responsible?” We have a nice array of violent wielders of power in Westeros, as well as the Five Kings, and such a mess of people who adhere to one side or the other. The religious aspect is far quieter than the rest of it until A Feast For Crows, so I’m not surprised that it’s mostly passed over here. But it’s such a nice little discussion. “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” One wonders how this would play out when Melisandre and Stannis are taken into account. A shadow on the wall indeed.

“I close my eyes and I see them up there. All of them. Standing there. Joffrey, the queen, and… and my sister.” It eerily echoes Arya’s prayer, which is so beautifully planted by Yoren’s story of revenge. It’s heartbreaking. Maisie is such a sweetheart, her eyes are so expressive. Wonderful scene and so sad. Yoren’s fantastic here. Should have rung alarm bells. How often do you hear something like that from someone who sticks around? Not often.

– Alas, poor Yoren… he kicked ass, at the end. Loved how he died sitting up, and had to be knocked to the ground. Badass of the episode, no doubt. “I’ve always hated crossbows. Take too long TO LOAD!” *YOREN SMASH*

– WHY DIDN’T HOT PIE SHOUT HOT PIE. He yields instead. Okay.

– It’s weird how condensed Arya’s storyline is. They’ve cut out quite a bit, including poor little Weasel, but that’s understandable considering the time and budgetry constraints. MOAR GENDRY PLEASE! Also, hurrah Jaqen! The added grimness of Lommy being killed with Arya’s own Needle is wickedly cruel, I do thoroughly approve of that, and Arya’s quick-thinking when it came to Gendry’s helmet next to Lommy’s corpse. That considering, wary look Gendry shot her when she started speaking was fab.

And next week:

Look! We’re back playing with the kings and queens again!

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!