Monday, 9 May 2016

“The true history of the world is the history of great conversations in elegant rooms”

Episode review

Game of Thrones is to TV what the mantis shrimp is to the sea: brutal, beautiful and the anti-thesis of all others in its genus. Having murdered several children, killed pregnant women and murdered several other characters in glorious, depraved technicolour, the show finally found an atrocity it couldn’t stomach: the death of Jon Snow. A show where actions have consequences and choices have costs just brought somebody back from the dead. Can we trust another death again? In my book, this was a mistake. The show should either have left Snow alive in the first place or once it decided to kill him, to stay true to their choice. No narrative-related good can come of this. Jon Snow is clearly one of the oathbreakers of the episode's title. How does this fit in with Brienne's sword (Oathkeeper)?

Meanwhile, talking about actions having consequences (and oathbreakers), Danaerys seems to have flown too close to the sun and is now paying a very heavy price for it. She now seems to be back at square one, which feels like yet another false move by GoT. What is the point of ejecting Danaerys from her cosy throne in Meereen to the snarling pit of despair that is the Ex-Khaleesi Wives Club? Is it to show that she’s learned how to be a warrior Princess even without her advisors and dragons? Or that she hasn’t learned anything at all? Or the costs of breaking the (Khal) principles?

The problem with this storyline is that it is isolated and its appeal depends almost entirely on what happens with Danaerys. With the Mother of Dragons separated from her empire, it seems like Meereen is merely treading water until she somehow returns. Having said that, it is delightful watching Tyrion and Varys work their slow, deliberate magic on Meereen. Arya’s scenes were tedious as always, suffering from the same problem as those on Essos: too isolated. How does this connect to the wider story? I’m sure all will be revealed but until then, forgive me for only half-listening. All in all, this was a typical ‘bridge’ episode, getting us from part A to part B. Jon Snow, Danaerys, Sansa, Arya, Rickon et al are all awaiting their fate and place in the story. A solid 6/10 episode.

Things we were surprised by

1. Bran’s flashbacks – this storyline seems much more contemplative than reactionary, as GoT chooses what it would like to show us rather than simply executing what has been set up (i.e. almost everything else). We await with queasy fascination the story of what happened in that tower.
2. Lord Varys the intimidator – watching Varys ooze menace (albeit an emollient kind of menace) was surprising given his form in Kings Landing. But he’s being asked to do a slightly different job in Meereen and he intends to do it well. Perhaps this city state will be run by a duo…
3. Long live Shaggydog.

Things we were not surprised by
1. Jon Snow not being dead – in the age of Twitter and cameraphones, there was no way around this one. Most people knew months before the show aired.
2. Game of Thrones’s mistreatment of Starks – GoT can’t resist torturing its Starks, which is why Arya had to be mercilessly beaten into submission (for that is the only way for Starks to survive in GoT) and Rickon had to be delivered into the hands of the single worst character in GoT.
3. Olly grimacing just before he is hanged – he’s full of rage, this one.

Finally…when do we get to see Lord Baelish and Gendry, who may have been lost to the sea?

No comments: