Monday, May 13, 2013

i'm really enjoying this season of game of thrones

So many of the characters in George R. R. Martin's fantasy epic are hitting high marks:

Armed only with a wooden sword ...
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) — the ultimate odd couple. First they were enemies, then reluctant teammates, and now they may actually be becoming, if not friends, allies. The scene in last night's episode, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” where Jaime returned to Harrenhall and helped Brienne fight her way out of a pit and away from a vicious bear (where she had been left, with a wooden sword, to be attacked for a sick form of entertainment) was both frightening and exhilarating. And speaking of odd couples, the wonderful Arya (Maisie Williams) has split from the Brotherhood, but run away right into the arms of The Hound (Rory McCann).

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has seemed far away and not quite so interesting for most of the season, but the last two episodes have shown just how much of a badass the tiny silver-haired girl can be. Look out Yunkai (and Westeros), here she comes.

Daenerys and one of her babies, via Pandawhale

Charles Dance continues to be fabulous as Tywin Lannister, reminding young King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) who exactly is running things in the Seven Kingdoms. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is always wonderful, and it was almost painful to watch him try to (unsuccessfully) appease his mistress Shae (Sibel Kekilli ) as he tried to reconcile himself to his upcoming nuptials to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner).

Although not exactly in the books, there have been some additions to the story that have added quite a lot to the drama and pathos this season:

Hello, young lovers. As Ygritte (Rose Leslie) keeps reminding him, "You know nothing, Jon Snow," Jon (Kit Harington) is still thinking like a member of the Night's Watch, and not a Wildling. Their romance is more intense onscreen than in the books, and all the more poignant. Jon's older half-brother Robb (Richard Madden) and his bride Talisa (Oona Chaplin) are also deeply in love and enjoying a brief respite from the war and the disapproval of Robb's mother Cat and the Frey clan.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season continues to be Margaery Tyrell, played by Natalie Dormer. Her part in the current storyline has been expanded way beyond her role in the books, and it has benefited many story-lines; from her quick recovery from the death of her husband Renly, to her betrothal to the odious Joffrey, to her friendship and advice to young and naive Sansa. As she told the girl this week, she shouldn't despair about her marriage to Tyrion, who is not only quite handsome, but clearly the kindest of the Lannisters. A union with Tyrion could have Sansa's child running most of Westeros.

Listen up, Sansa! You might learn something.
The only bum note this season continues to be Theon's (Alfie Allen) storyline. Stretching out his torture from episode to episode is getting to be a bit much. Hardly a favorite character, certainly we could skip him in an episode or two and still see him end up as broken from the experience, as he will undoubtedly be. In the latest drawn-out torture scene's defense I will say that for once, the HBO pre-requite nudity per episode was actually used for a purpose — and a menacing one at that, rather than the usual T&A.

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair” was also the only episode this season written by George R. R. Martin, which may explain the (deeper) depth of feelings that some of the characters were able to plumb this time out. With only three episodes left to go, and some serious drama yet to unfold (don't worry, I'm not telling), season three is bound to end with a bang.
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