Valar Morghulis

Rich kicked off a discussion of Games of Thrones when last year’s season ended. Given the huge ratings, I suspect we have even more people watching it now. This season wrapped up last night with an absolute barn-burner of an episode for a barn-burner of a season.

[Spoilers ahead]

I must say this was my favorite season so far and not just because it was the first I was keeping up with in real time. We are finally seeing the pieces of GRRM’s chess game moving into position, with plot threads being resolved or dramatically changed. We saw the erasure of not one but two Lannisters, a possible resolution of the Wildlings plot and some real movement on Bran’s plot thread. Moreover, I think things are set up for some huge plot developments in the future. I don’t know where we are headed, but it should be a fun ride in seasons 5 and 6.

Some scattered thoughts:

  • One of themes emerging from the series, referenced explicitly in episode three, is what it takes to be a king. It’s not enough to be a good and honorable man, as we saw with the Starks. There is a certain ruthlessness and pragmatism that comes with it. Tyrion showed this in his tenure as Hand. Daenarys is learning this now, after her disastrous start in Season One.
  • Another theme is that there is no black and white in Game of Thrones, only shades of gray. Characters are complex and can do good things one day and bad things the next. Jaime has become the embodiment of this. A lot of people were disappointed with the rape scene, thinking it undid all his character development. But Jaime has always been a mix. He’s both the man who saved King’s Landing and the man who shoved a small boy out of a tower window for discovering he was screwing his sister. Jaime’s character is often highly dependent on who he’s with. Tyrion and Brienne bring out the best in him. Cersei brings out the worst.
  • I think we can inscribe Peter Dinklage’s name on every acting award this year. He had numerous scenes this year that just took my breath away — the trial, the conversation with Oberyn, his final scene with Tywin. Dinklage has taken what I understand to be one of the favorite characters of the books and made him even better.
  • Speaking of Oberyn. I really liked him and Pedro Pascal’s performance was great. Episode eight was like a punch in the gut. But … he accomplished two out of his three objectives. In Game of Thrones, that’s not bad.
  • Now that Cersei is effectively ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, I expect things to go downhill very fast.
  • I hope Jorah finds a way to work himself back into Daenarys’ good graces.
  • Fans of the books who are upset that their favorite scenes weren’t in or things have been changed need to get a grip. GRRM is heavily involved in the series and has no doubt played a role in the changes. Reading interviews, I think one of the reason the books are taking so long is that he wrote himself into a corner (the “Meereenese knot”). Tolkien did this too but Tolkien had the luxury of going back and revising the earlier books before they were published to avoid the corners. I think some of the plot changes to the TV series are designed to avoid the mistakes he made in the earlier books and accelerate the story. We may therefore get an ending in 7 or 8 seasons instead of 14.
  • Anyway, post your thoughts.

    Comments are closed.

    1. Seattle Outcast

      Now that Cersei is effectively ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, I expect things to go downhill very fast.

      For herself, very much so. The books made it clear that she’s good at manipulating people in order to acquire power, but very much her own worst enemy once she actually gets it. She’s impulsive, short-sighted, and has no real concept of history. She knows HOW things are, but not WHY – that comes to really bite her on the ass later.

      The kingdoms as a whole sort of stay in stasis – the story now ends up in Bravos, Dorne, the Iron Islands, and across the eastern continent as a couple of new players get introduced and plot threads begin to come together.

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    2. Hal_10000 *

      Yeah, that’s the thing about Cersei: she’s really smart in some ways but really dumb in others. Tyrion is a perfect example. If she had shown him any affection at all, he would have been a powerful ally. You can see some of that in Season 2. Tyrion wants to like her. She would have had almost everything she wanted with him as her right arm. But hating him (and more to the point, making sure he was humiliated in his trial) comes back to bite her in huge huge ways.

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    3. richtaylor365

      I’m glad I did not read the books, each plot twist is new and I don’t get all constipated because the series exercised some creative license to veer off from the printed page.

      The shades of gray is a reflection of life in general, no one is all one thing and none the other, although good people doing bad things and bad people doing good to the extent here (just when you start to warm up to The Hound, he goes and robs that poor farmer) can be a bit disconcerting.

      I was saddened to see Ygritte die.I hope Osha returns in season 5. I like the Sam story line-hopefully he gets the girl in the end, and I have no empathy or sympathy for Sansa, she has always irritated me, hopefully she will come to either an untimely end or redeem herself next year.

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    4. ilovecress

      I agree that it was a great end to a great season – but there is a worry. The reason that this season has been so great is because it’s ripped up the storytelling rulebook, and has smashed any semblance of order in the world. Which is the corner GRRM has written himself into.

      It seems like the show has a plan for this though, hence some of the changes between last night and the books. Things that seem insignificant, but give the show a lot more options that GRRM gave himself at the end of the book.

      As for us book fans being disappointed… I’ll stay spoiler free here, but the main complaint most people have is that there’s no way that the one scene we were expecting last night is going to say secret for 12 months. One of the fascinating things about the show is seeing how they tell two different stories – one for people who know what’s going to happen, and one for those who don’t.

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    5. Seattle Outcast

      Sansa as character is much easier to put up with if you see her as the witness to events, not a participant. Sort of like C3PO…..

      Also, Sansa is clearly there as an example of someone that has life wash over them like a wave. Everyone else takes some sort of action (most of them end up dead for their efforts), and Sansa just goes where the wave takes her. She is the personification of childlike innocence and a punching bag all rolled into one – which is a sure recipe to create something insane that bites back.

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    6. Section8

      I think we can inscribe Peter Dinklage’s name on every acting award this year. He had numerous scenes this year that just took my breath away — the trial, the conversation with Oberyn, his final scene with Tywin.

      What a way to wrap up Father’s Day.

      If he doesn’t get an award for the trial, then the entertainment industry should just stop handing out awards.

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    7. richtaylor365

      It’s totally in his hands, if Dinklage is seen in public with his boyfriend, makes some public statement about mother earth dying, or blames the guilty verdict in his trial on Bush, he’s a lock.

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    8. AlexInCT

      Best way to kill a villain? A couple of crossbow bolts into the chest while they are sitting on the god damned chamber pot!

      Justice, baby!

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    9. HARLEY

      Oh if you think Cersei is a manipulative little cunt, just watch Margeary in the next 2 sessions…

      Sansa, i expect her to take up Littlefingers tutelage in the finer arts of deceit, and maybe his attention, in the end to his loss.

      Tyrion Fucking Brilliant! fucking Brilliant!

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    10. West Virginia Rebel

      Poor Oberon, we barely knew thee…

      I’d like to see Cersei and Daenerys in a fight. I think Dany is going to regret treating her little (well, not so little anymore) fire-breathers like children.

      I guess the one lesson from game of thrones is never underestimate the dwarf…

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    11. AlexInCT

      Nobody found it funny that the Hound got his arse kicked by a woman? And is he done for or will he make a reappearance? His brother The Mountain is about to be transformed into a monster too. Maybe they need a woman to kill him too?

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    12. CM

      Finally saw it last night. Excellent.
      Although there has been way too little nudity and sex recently. They seem to try and pack it all in during the earlier episodes in a season, and then slowly replace it with fighting as the season progresses. Ah well, I have a whole season of Shameless to watch, that’s a fairly reliable/consistent show.

      I so love Cersei. She is awesome.

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    13. Nexus

      “I think we can inscribe Peter Dinklage’s name on every acting award this year.”

      Beyond a doubt! If he doesn’t come home with the Emmy and Golden Globe it will be a travesty of justice.

      For those familar with the books I’m hoping we get to see Lady Stoneheart next season.

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