Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Which I Review Game of Thrones (5x1)

Folks, don't get used to this feature; it will not be a regular occurrence. But often times I feel compelled to review an episode (one singular episode) for my own selfish reasons: mainly that I just really want to talk about that episode but have little time to review the show fully. I'll do a season finale as well for GoT to make it up to any readers. Here is something you may not know about me; I have been reading A Song of Ice and Fire for over a decade. Long before HBO got their hands on George RR Martin's work, I was reading it, theorizing about it, and loving it. As such, my relationship with HBO's "Game of Thrones" is complicated. While I adored the first season, since it was an almost literal translation from page to screen, the show has begun to wildly diverge and go off on their own path--something I find rather hard to stomach especially when their own path feels like a disservice to Martin's work. The show is also going to be sticking its toe into future books that have not been published as of yet. That makes me both excited and nervous as someone who has had to wait years in between books and would love some new things to analyze, but also nervous as someone who didn't imagine her favorite book series being spoiled by a TV show. However, since I do consider myself a lover of all things TV and pop culture, I have been remiss in reviewing, properly, an episode of Game of Thrones--the biggest pop culture craze out there. So, without further ado, the season five premiere episode, "The Wars to Come." Grab a dragon...or a direwolf. 

In Kings Landing

Welcome to the year of Cersei Lannister. I mean that literally. Season five is going to be made up of two books, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons (and apparently a little bit of The Winds of Winter). The former, book four in the series, is very Cersei heavy as we witness her attempt (emphasis on attempt because Cersei Lannister couldn't rule even if she was literally handed a book called 'How to be the Best Ruler Alive') to rule in King's Landing in the wake of her son Joffery and her father Tywin dying. In the passing of Tywin, Cersei is preparing for her next battle, mostly against the Tyrell clan who refuse to leave King's Landing without securing Margery as Queen; Joffery or no Joffery, Marg must be queen. Cersei is easily my least favorite character in print or on screen. Everything about her is off-putting but nothing more so than her constant attempts to rule by being "mother of the year." In other words, claiming that everything she does is for her children, but in reality is for Cersei's own selfish desires. Her interactions with Jaime, even if it was rather brief, were stilted and harsh but doesn't seem to mesh with what we saw from them at the end of S4. The back and forth of Jaime and Cersei needs to be at an end, and I'm not just saying that because it's completely different in the books. Jaime's own redemption arc, something that was done quite well in season 3, came to a sudden screeching halt at the end of last season when he and Cersei slept together in the White Tower (no no no no no!!!) Jaime should be forever moving away from Cersei as her hold on power begins to tighten and everyone around her is strangled to death. It's time for Jaime to branch out and go...be the Jaime I know (and kinda really like) in the books. Accompanying Cersei's march through King's Landing, we had a brief mention of the new Sparrow sect. Keep an eye on them. Trust me.

At The Wall

Oh Jon Snow. You are your father's son. Both fathers. If you're familiar with who Jon's biological papa is--the kind of man Rhaegar Targaryen was--then did anyone else feel like Jon was really playing out Rhaegar's struggle here? Rhaegar had a choice just like Jon and Mance do. There is the selfish choice, which, yes can mean making your own choice however foolhardy or you can make the harder choice, the one that might lose you the respect of your friends, family, and subjects. You can bend you knee to something like losing everything you thought you stood for in order to save the world. Jon, like Rhaegar before him, would chose the harder path--it might make things messy and complicated with his subjects and those who live under him, but it's the best choice because what do pride, honor, and being king matter when the world is at stake? Running off with Lyanna? Possibly a very bad move. But if it means that the Prince that was Promised was born? Possibly worth it. The conversation between Jon and Mance was quite touching and nice; Mance has been like a father figure to Jon and Jon deeply respects the Wildlings (most of them) now, thanks in large part to Ygritte. And that's why my favorite moment of the evening was Jon shooting Mance through the heart so he wouldn't have to watch a good man die in a truly terrible way. You're a good man, Jon Snow. I hope you can stay that way. In other Wall related news, the men of the Night's Watch need a new Lord Commander. Yeah, keep an eye on that plot development. Trust me. And, Mel, I'm only going to say this once: you do not get to screw Jon Snow. You keep your weird fire mitts off of him. He is not for you! Fanaticism: thy name is Melisandre.


In Pentos

Drunk Tyrion is my favorite Tyrion. No, that's a lie. Any Tyrion is my favorite Tyrion but I do love snarky, wishing-I-was-dead, mostly drunk Tyrion. I both loved and hated this portion of the episode. I'll start with why I hated it (and yes, it has to do with the books). Varys is a great character; sly, cunning and unassuming, he's the perfect master of whispers. But I have such serious problems with this idea that Varys is on #TeamRealm or something. In a way he is, but he--like everyone else in Westeros--on #Team-Realm-As-I-See-It. He isn't trying to restore the Targaryen monarchy, not with Daenerys. He's trying to put a Blackfyre on the throne for crying out loud (if you don't know what that means, go read the books. Trust me). He's not pro-Targaryen and he's not pro-realm. He's pro-my-guy-who-I've-invested-a-lot-of-time-and-money-into. Where is fAegon!? Ugh. Sorry. This bugs me more than I thought it would. However, forget everything I just said because even though I do not like that they've turned Varys into someone he is not, I did love his speech to Tyrion about what makes a good ruler. And he's referring to my Silver Queen, Daenerys Targaryen. That speech made me proud to support Dany and everything I think she stands for--the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and the human. Now, Tyrion, go find someone who knows Dany better than anyone else (*cough* Jorah *cough*) and get thee to Meereen! Even though I am nervous about the show spoiling the books, I can't wait for Tyrion and Dany to met. My two favorite characters? In the same room? Talking? Yes please.

In Meereen

And finally in Meereen, I try very hard to ignore that Daario has a nice butt because I really dislike his character in the books. He is not some romantic, sweet and nice guy, HBO. He's a swaggering sellsword who proposes that Dany butcher half of Meereen. He "loves" her only because she is powerful and beautiful and rare, like her dragons. He doesn't really know her and the attempt to add sympathy to him by giving Daario a sad story fell on my very deaf ears. But yes, the actor is gorgeous. Meereen is a hard plot line to talk about because from here until the end of this season, it's going to be rough going for Dany. Very rough going. I don't want to go give anything away, but those Sons of the Harpy? Keep an eye on them. Trust me. My hope for this season with Dany is that they let her stop being "badass" all the time and show how fragile and human she is, and not just in bed with her lover. Daenerys is made up of self doubt, more so than Cersei, which is a really important contrast. She is plagued by decisions she's made and the consequence thereof. Dany becomes an increasingly internal character and I am worried that the show doesn't know how to translate that on screen since you can read someone's internal conflict but it's harder to show. Book five, which is a Dany heavy book, is really focused on her identity and what being Daenerys Targaryen means. Is she a Harpy Queen or The Mother of Dragons? They have got to sell that this year or else the resolution that comes at the end isn't going to have any impact. Trust me.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Wars To Come

--Obviously with Game of Thrones, there are a lot of plot lines so I had to skip quite a bit. Here are some highlights. As someone who doesn't particularly like Sansa Stark, I did really enjoy her tet-a-tet with Littlefinger; it shows that she has come quite far since the beginning. But, where are they going...? Can't be the North. It's not the North, right? That would be sincerely weird given the books as it stands right now.

--The opening scene was really well done and I'm glad the show is keeping the Younger and More Beautiful Queen prophecy.

--I don't understand what Brienne is doing now that she's lost Arya and has apparently given up on Sansa. Also, I didn't like the way Brienne was talking to Pod. Brienne feels bad for the boy in the books, but she is never visciously cruel to him like she was in this episode.

--Oh look, sexposition. What would GoT be without it? Also known as: you need to remember Dorne so here is a whore talking about Dorne while being a whore.

--No Arya or Jorah this episode. Two of my favorites.

--Angry dragons make me sad

--"Who said anything about him?"

--Overall I'd give this episode an 8. The things I did not like were because I'm a book reader first. It's a constant struggle.


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