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.
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.
I’m liking these Friday Five threads. If nothing else, they allow for a little more fun and sunshine in a frustrating political time. We can argue tooth and claw on one thread about foreign policy and then join together in, say, our hatred of Battlefield Earth.
Today’s is top science-fiction or fantasy films. Broad swathe but only films, not TV series. You can lump series together, as I have, or consider them as separate films, as pleases you. I wrote a very long post on this for my own site, so I’ll just summarize here:
2001: As much out of respect as anything else. It’s one of the few that I would classify as a great “feeeelm”.
The Lord of the Rings: Yeah. The trailer for the Hobbit looks good. I’m still not seeing three movies, but the trailer looks good.
The Star Wars Trilogy: Empire is what elevates this one to the top three.
Pan’s Labyrinth: Wonderfully visionary and I always find something in my eye in the final scene.
The Harry Potter Series: Amazing what you can do with good writing and acting, isn’t it? more here for the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
You can read the long post for any honorable mentions.
What are your five?