Monday, May 16, 2016
Game of Thrones
Hard to believe we're four episodes into another season of Game of Thrones already. This season is going to fly by- and where will we be at when it's done? Will the show succeed in moving the narrative forward and start to wrap things up? And in a week when George RR Martin released a new sample chapter from the next book, it is interesting again to see just how much the books and the show have diverged from one another. It's interesting to me that at this point two very important characters are essentially where they were in the beginning of the story- Daenerys is with the Dothraki, and Jon has a fresh start. It's almost a do over except that both characters now have so many more experiences to draw on as they move forward.
This episode started out strong again- they've been nailing the openings. Jon is preparing to leave when Sansa shows up- that happened quick! I guess it doesn't take as long to get to Castle Black as it used to. A powerful moment though- the gates opening and Sansa being there on horseback. Well done. Sansa has come a long way and is going to be a player now, and I for one am looking forward to her exacting a bit of vengeance on her enemies. She's the one who pushes Jon to fight back- she wants to take Winterfell and free the north
Jon is initially reluctant, and while maybe that's understandable given that he just died and came back, it's not the Jon of the books- at least in my view. In the books Jon receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton and he is about to leave and make war on Ramsay when he is killed. It happens differently here- Ramsay's letter in this episode demands the return of Sansa, and that along with the threat to Rickon is what makes Jon ready to fight. I just like the way Jon decides in the book version- he's assertive and pissed off and ready to fight, Night's Watch or not. Here he's written a little more timid, for want of a better word.
Still this is powerful stuff, with Jon and Sansa together and Tormund there. Will the wildlings march for Jon? And let's not forget Davos and Melisandre- the red woman is unsure of herself now but she knows she will follow Jon. Will she ride with them? With Mel and the wildlings Jon could be a force to be reckoned with. Or better- as Sansa suggests, rally the north and take it away from the Boltons. This is the best storyline on the show right now.
Unfortunately I think it's all downhill from there. Littlefinger returns and it's nice to have him back, I guess. He continues to manipulate young Lord Arryn and puts Lord Royce in his place- is this supposed to be Bronze Yohn Royce or Nestor Royce? I'm not clear on that, but if it's Bronze Yohn that 's incredibly disappointing as Yohn is not a wallflower by any means, and I don't see anything like that sequence even remotely possible in the books. But... I see where this is going. Littlefinger wants to join the war and "rescue" Sansa- if he brings the armies of the Vale to the north and meets up with Jon and Sansa, that's a pretty powerful force.
Talk about moving the plot along. Between Jon and Sansa and the Vale entering the conflict- and given what happens at the end with Daenerys- I would say the plot has accelerated in this episode. The middle of this episode was just okay- the Tyrion scenes were nothing special and while I enjoyed seeing Margaery again, we had more pointless talking by the Sparrow for the second week in a row. And Loras has been captured? I didn't know the Sparrow had him. Cersei and Jaime meanwhile set things straight with Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister- the Tyrell army will free Margaery and they plan to deal with the Sparrow once and for all. Cersei and Tyrell working together- how long can that last?
This is the weakest storyline. Jaime is again such a disappointment, a pale shadow of the Jaime in the books. Like I said last week, he's just with Cersei here where in the books he burns her letter and has chosen a different course. Too bad we don't get to see that. What else happens? Well Theon returns home and meets with Yara- and plans to support her. And Ramsay kills Osha, something else I'm not buying. Ramsay's not exactly a fighter and Osha is supposed to be tough as nails- but again the show gets all this stuff wrong. Regardless, it's done. Which brings us to Dany.
Again here the plot is moved along but in a very unrealistic way. The writers sort of put themselves in a corner with Dany being captured- how to free her? Well kill all the leaders of the Dothraki and Dany is queen. Just like that. I hate to be harsh but that scene where she burns the temple is just ridiculous- she kills all the khals by knocking over three braziers? Seriously the whole temple goes up that fast and none of them can even reach her? I mean it's silly. It's a powerful moment to be sure, but man do they milk it with the soaring music and the long shot of her emerging unburnt- with of course the requisite partial nudity because HBO. But it's just so dumb- I can't believe they expect viewers to buy that.
So... the plot has been moved forward, no question! Dany has the Dothraki and things are on the move in the north. Elsewhere, I think the results are mixed but we're definitely beyond book territory for the most part and this show is truly its own thing now.