Title: Game of Thrones
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Watched: Episode 16 – May 6, 2012
Title: The Old Gods and the New
Summary: The pace accelerates
If I had to give this episode a theme, it would be trust (and betrayal). We open as last week with what was foreshadowed before, the arrival of the sea at Winterfell. But the producers did some serious cheaping out. We see none of the assault, none of the battle, instead merely Luwin running to send a raven and Theon telling Bran what he did. Didn’t they here “show don’t tell?” They knew though, it’s just the money, and perhaps the minutes. Still, it’s effective enough, but… cheap. But we do concentrate on the characters, and when Theon gathers everyone, we see the conflict written on every inch of his face. He makes his choice when he decides to man up and execute Rodrick. He is, as the dialog says, “lost forever.”
In the north, John and Qhorin Halfhand continue their excursion through the snowy waste of Iceland. Some got lucky and filmed in Dubrovnik Croatia, some in Iceland. Who had more fun? We see Ghost wandering around again. They must have figured out how to make the wolves economical.
Then Arya continues to serve Lord Tywin Lannister. The acting here between Arya and Tywin is absolutely first rate. The latter is more complicated, more human, and more likeable in the show than the books. Sure he’s a hardass, but he is reasonable. Then Littlefinger arrives. This is new to the show and deliciously tense. The subtle ways in which Arya tries to maneuver herself to face away, really good stuff.
Back to John in the mountains. They creep up and kill a bunch of wildlings, sparing only one, Ygritte, a pretty redhead. John accepts the responsibility of killing her. Qhorin trusts him to do it. This is a very intimate moment between Snow and the girl. There is something twistedly sexual about the power of life and death, and the lingered moment is exquisite.
The Lannisters see Marcella off to Dorne. Tyrion was right when he insisted that she’d be safer there, because the crowd is angry. Joff isn’t exactly the most endearing of kings, as Ty says, “cruel AND stupid.” The riot is fairly well done. It’s chaotic and dangerous, yet the armored troops have the individual upper hand, as they would. The septon is torn to pieces, literarily. We have various changes. The halfwit daughter of lady whatever isn’t really present. The queen finds herself in less jeopardy, and Sansa gets in some real trouble only to be saved by the Hound. This does a nice job reinforcing the SanSan relationship that the books have more time to develop.
Dany has a brief scene in Qarth with Xaro and the newly arrived “spice king.” He reminds me a bit of a Ferengi.
More Arya and Tywin time. We learn that Jaime is dyslexic, which is a nice bit of character building and exposition— except we haven’t seen Jaime since the first episode, which is a pity. In a way, Ty and Arya’s funny relationship reflects the whole trust thing. Arya snitches a paper about Robb, and then gets herself in a bit of trouble, but good thing she’s got her own pet assassin. The timing of the resolution has a very nice tragio-comic touch.
On the battlefield with Robb, he’s working his relationship with the nurse, Lady Talisa Migia (spelling could be wrong because she’s a new invented character). I’m not really feeling it with these two, but mom arrives to spoil the party and remind him he must marry an ugly Frey girl. I wonder what was wrong with the setup in the novels? Bolton shows with news. How many will noticed the “Flayed Man” on his sigil?
John marches through the waste with a captive Ygritte. Their little chase (which occurred in the previous segment of the thread) was nicely done. Here he has to deal with her and she sets to work on his manly weakness. I liked the two of the them in the books and I like it here.
Robb, Cat, and Bolton discuss Theon’s betrayal. I like how they have given Bolton a little more skin in the game (haha) and how they improve the clarity of him sending his bastard son to relieve Winterfell. This is a tad obtuse in the books. One of GRRMs weaknesses as a writer (and made worse by his complex POV structure) is that certain parts of important events are often a little vague. I forgive him, he has so many strengths.
Osha is fairly convincing when she comes to work Theon. Trust and betrayal. He gets what he sows. She even goes in for the full frontal, which is the only bit of nudity in this sexposition free episode (two in a row!). With Littlefinger out of town and Daisy nursing her bottom, what are whores to do? Theon has fallen for women several times before, it stems from his insecurities, and this time is no different. Contrast him with his “step” half-brother John who resists Ygritte’s advances (for now).
Very brief status with Sasha being tended by Shae. This is mostly just to let us know she’s okay.
Then back to Theon. Osha sneaks away. She’s always had an interesting feral quality to her, with her head cocked and the like, but naked it’s doubly so. She’s pretty badass with the guard and it’s good to see the Stark boys (and the wolves) make a clean escape. Theon’s in trouble now! You reap what you sow. Wait, I thought Greyjoy’s didn’t sow!
Then Dany (with Xaro) finds her people raided and slaughtered and her dragons missing. This too is a major change from the book but I don’t blame them, her Qarth plot in A Clash of Kings was a little anemic. But here, trust or betrayal? And where was Jorah when we needed him?
And so ends another great episode. As usual, as the plot lines twist and knot, with the setup mostly accomplished, things move very rapidly here in the middle of the season. I so wish I didn’t have to wait another week!