Here’s our second installment of our weekly Game of Thrones review. Corrin couldn’t make this discussion, but will be back next week. Please to enjoy! – kdc
Laura, what did you think of the episode overall?
Well, in many ways this was our second premiere episode (wonder why they didn’t choose a two-hour premiere?), as we have now seen the remainder of the major characters and have been introduced to some new faces: Jojen and Meera Reed (very excited to meet them), Olenna Tyrell (Margaery’s grandmother), and some miscellaneous criminals whose names will stick more later, I’m sure. I liked it, but I’m still sort of waiting for this season to get rolling. You?
I have to say, I felt a bit underwhelmed. It had the feel of an episode in which the writers were moving the pieces around a little forcibly to get the characters where they needed to be. The repartee was less honed, the dialogue less finessed.
It didn’t help that the scenes tended to end by mentioning someone not present, who was then whooshed to in the following scene. I mean, soap opera much?
Speaking of whooshing soap operas, the magic and supernatural are really picking up this season. First we end Season 2 with a huge reveal of White Walkers, and already this season we’ve learned that wargs are a thing, Bran probably is one, and Catelyn believes she put a curse on her family and possibly all of Westeros. Before now, Daenerys and Melisandre were obviously practicing some kind of magic, but their influence and power were more shrewd than flashy (such as Dany refusing to show her dragons in Qarth, until they were stolen, and Melisandre giving birth to the shadow assassin baby in front of only Davos Seaworth). Knowing that I’m a nerd who has read the books and you’re a show-only follower, do you agree, or what’s been your take on magic in the story?
Hmm. I have to think about that. I am supposing in the books there is much detail about the difference between the old gods and the new, and we of TV-world really don’t know much about what they are. But the “unseen” now seems palpable; although it has been pooh-poohed by many of the characters, you sense that those who don’t acknowledge the gathering strength of the unseen forces are kind of SOL. Though “warg” sounds like a dance from the 1960s.
Speaking of soap opera … what did you make of the conversation between Margaery and Joffrey?
From the beginning of the scene — where he is pushing away a tailor’s fabric choice because there are too many flowers in it; to the penile placement of the crossbow between his thighs, which Margaery strokes; to his mention of the “degeneracy” of Renly, which he wants to make “punishable by death” – I thought, wow, this kid is really having trouble coming to terms with his sexuality!
That was striking to me — up until now, I have never heard anyone mention gayness in a negative way, and he referred to it as a perversion. And of course, the kid has giant mommy issues!
And we have to put that crossbow scene in context with Joffrey’s horrifying sexual and physical abuse of Ros and Daisy last season — which it seems he took no physical part in, only observed and orchestrated. Yeah, the gay taboo has been joked about, but it’s becoming more poignant: when Loras Tyrell was escorting Sansa to meet his sister and grandmother for lemon cakes and treachery, his lack of memory of meeting Sansa before reminds us that he is heartbroken but must hide it. Although everyone knew Renly was gay, now that he’s gone, Loras can slip back into the closet — and it seems that’s what he’s going to do. As Jaime said to Brienne about her affection for Renly, you can’t choose who you love — but, he seems to say between the lines, you can choose who finds that out. (We all know what Jaime is willing to do to keep his incestuous relationship secret!)
Joffrey’s preferences don’t seem so much gay or straight as horrifyingly sadistic. At the very least, he hates women and loves violence (I can’t be the only one who wants to drop him into “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” so Lisbeth Salander can take him out), and that freaks me out much more than Margaery and her grandmother were freaked out. I wanted to shake them and say, “Yes, Sansa sounds hysterical, but she’s right!”
Right, like Margaery thinks she can manage him by using her womanly wiles. Also, did it take until now for her to have her eyes opened to his barbarity? I think you are right on about his sexuality. I rewatched that scene with Ros and Daisy and was reminded that he pushed them away when one tried to fondle him “down there.” He is a child of incest, so I suppose it’s understandable that he distrusts his sexual urges.
Back to that crossbow scene: we were reminded how Joffrey’s mommy issues have evolved rather quickly into a pronounced dislike of his mother, rather than the more defensive tone we saw in Season 2. It all changed after the sack of King’s Landing, I suppose, but Margaery is either contributing or, at the very least, recognizing that shift. She’s manipulating a manipulator expertly. Not that I feel bad for Joffrey, but … I’m dying to see how this turns out! The women on the show are really rocking this season.
Yes, the women are now in charge of this season, it seems. But Cersei has no control of Joffrey, and it is killing her.
One of the most disappointing scenes for me was between Tyrion and Shae. It’s like some executive shouted “More Dinklage!” and the writers had to scramble to come up with some bits of dialogue while sucking down the dregs of their lattes. … “We came to a dangerous place, with dangerous people …”? Ho-hum. So Season 2. And “I only have eyes for you”? Blech.
On to more new characters and ones we haven’t seen since last season: What did you think of Catelyn’s revelation about Jon Snow’s baby-pox? And what of the Reeds?
I have been rewatching Season 1 and have been reminded how much of this is about Cat and her kids, and what she does and does not do for them. She had Tyrion seized after she suspected him of hurting Bran, and that set off — it seems to me — the whole conflict with the Lannisters and Ned’s eventual beheading. I did not really see that before. (It does help to watch those old episodes!) She just could not love Jon Snow — and I think their efforts to reconcile or not will be a major plot point.
Considering how meandering this show can be, it was fascinating to me that we saw Catelyn doing the same thing twice — meaning making the dreamcatcher-thing again. We were definitely supposed to let our minds wander to Bran, and hence to Jaime and his loyalty to Cersei, too. We still don’t know who attacked Bran (in bed) for sure, right?
The Reeds seemed like mostly a tease for future episodes — it felt like the intro of major characters, so I’m excited by fresh meat (if you will). But, we’ll see what Osha has to say about that! I don’t think she’s done being suspicious of the Reeds or of “black magic” in general.
It was driving me nuts trying to identify Jojen Reed — his eyes are so distinctive — but then I placed it: the “Love, Actually” kid!
On to Theon, whom I must admit is one of my favorite characters. Partly because I think he’s a very good actor — he can go from hurt puppy to puffed-up wannabe in an instant — partly because his bad choices are so understandable and human. We see him in crucifixion pose, being tortured. And we see that cross in the banner of House Bolton, which we are told is a symbol of a flayed man. Yowza! Not looking good for Theon. I kind of hoped he’d be forced to end his whoring at the Wall.
Yeah, Theon is one of those kids with “potential,” you know? He seems to desperately need good influences or he falls into the pattern — albeit a very understandable one — of trying to please his pretty horrible family. And let’s recall that we at first thought his family, the Greyjoys, were awful, but the more we meet Ned Stark’s allies, the less I’m led to believe that any family is above contempt. I mean, even if the Starks didn’t torture people (that we know of!), they were happy to make allegiance with a house whose sigil is a skinned dude. Whut.
Let’s end this on the best note we can: Arya! I know she’s lots of people’s favorite, but for good reason. What will happen now that the Hound has outed her?!
It seems right now all roads lead to Riverrun – for Robb and Catelyn, Arya and the Band of Brothers, and Jaime and Brienne.
So Jaime and Brienne are going there in irons, Robb and his mother in mourning black, and Arya possibly under armed guard if this Band of Brothers thinks she’s worth a ransom, right? And bringing the Hound with them as well, it looks like!
Yes! And … why do I think Bran and Rickon will end up there, too?
So I’m thinking about the cycle of rebellion against parents and the simultaneous need for their approval that drives so many of the characters — Jon Snow, Tyrion, Theon — and the way it is reflected in the larger rebellions … but perhaps that’s worth ruminating on some other time.
Certainly the royal families of Westeros are shaped and molded by who is in their immediate and extended families — and yet, it’s only sometimes that those families can really protect or hurt you.
One last thing: what did you think of Olenna Tyrell? I have to say: I don’t love that trope of the fearless truth-telling senior who is supposed to warm our hearts.
And I was happy not to have dragons this week!
Olenna does seem stereotypical, but then again we haven’t seen any women say the utter truth out loud. For better or worse, she’s created a female-only space around herself — her “hens,” as she tells Sansa — and she can share her thoughts without equivocation (see: Cersei) thanks to that buffer, as well as age.
Great points. It’s been fun chatting with you. Valar Dohaeris!
Were we watching the same episode?? I saw nothing about Olenna that made me think she was the least bit heartwarming; rather, she’s a strategist — she and Marge took the info about Joffrey in stride and adjusted their plans to get Marge in a position to be *the* queen some day. Olenna Tyrell is shrewd, yes, and civil (for now) but not particularly lovable — and she already looks a lot smarter than Cersei. And I’ll bet she was always blunt and opinionated, at least in private.
As for Joff, we already knew during the first season that he’s an egotistic, spoiled little torturer and, like most bullies, backs off when firmly challenged (then again, that was before he became king; who can challenge him now without dying or getting maimed?). Nobody else, including Cersei, seems to know how to deal with the brat, but Marge takes the news that he’s really a monster and immediately works it by hinting that she, too, might enjoy that violent edge. Joff isn’t gay, nor is he interested in sex: he’s just perverse and sadistic. He gets off on the violence. He’s a serial torture-killer in the making. Marge will use that knowledge to give herself a measure of security by letting him think they have more in common than they actually do.
Poor Jon Snow. Does he really have to endure an entire season of variations on ‘You know nothing’ from the redhead? He and Robb seem the most put upon in the series, to date. At least we get to watch Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder, who looks like nobody’s fool. I was surprised, meanwhile, that Arya got recognized (was she supposed to?? I thought not; oh well …). Doesn’t bode well for her. Damn, I like her, too. Sansa, on the other hand, needs to rediscover her brains, particularly re: Littlefinger (she probably left them under the bed back at Winterfell). Seriously: asking the guy who lusted after your mother for advice??? Brain freeze much?
And as for Bran and his baby bro, they’re way too young and Bran’s too dependent on Hodor and Osha for the kids to be too involved in the action. I predict a very long arc in the woods for the boys, staying out of sight and out of danger. BTW, I really hate Theon: he’s such a weak-willed weasel who’s still trying (pointlessly) to impress his dad. Shoot, he can’t even get sympathy from his sister. He probably got much better treatment from the Starks than he would have at home, and he repaid that with betrayal. Nice. He’s got nothing now. Who’d want to ally with *him*? Or, for that matter, marry him?? Ugh! And he makes a lousy soldier. Torture it is, then. And the torturer seems to be a guy who could give *Joffrey* lessons. Ouch.
What I really want to see is Tyrion working those little grey cells (which his family so underestimates), and just how long it takes him to figure out that he can make a better alliance across the water than anywhere in Westeros. Guess I’ll stay tuned.
Thanks for all those thoughts! It sounds like you’ve possibly read the books, yes? I don’t want to get spoiler-y (Cheryl would kill me), but some of your comments sounded like you have, like wondering if Arya was recognized. Theon is a nasty piece of work, but after the third episode, I’m wondering if I’ll identify with him more than I did/would have in the book, when he’s so clearly screwed over by his family and his teen-boy self-consciousness and then, UGH, torture.
Thanks for the post! Just to clarify, I was not implying that Joffrey was gay and fighting it — more that he seems disgusted by his natural urges, which are now expressed as pure sadism. His parents are his mother and uncle so yeah, it’s understandable. He seems so fearful of being seen as a momma’s boy and all that entails — and just pushes harder and harder to make the point. I agree that Maergery thought she could cunningly appeal to his dark side to make herself more appealing.
I suspect you’re disappointed Theon wasn’t flayed alive!