Another Monday, another Game of Thrones review. After the season premier, which was decent but not great, we have this weekend been treated with one of the better episodes in the show, definitively a better episode than most in the previous season. Let’s get into it right away.
I‘ll cover what happened at the wall first, as usual. The long and the short of it is that the wildlings first helped Dolorous Edd and Davos overcome and detain the traitors and then Melisandre brought Jon back to life through some voodoo. Overall we had some great acting, some nice details and some less than nice details. I like that Allister didn’t veer off character, but stayed defiant and was almost prepared to fight and die. He sounded like he really believed in what he said and that he was committed to his duty, which means that the actor and the writers all did a good job.
This may sound less important than it is, and frequent readers know that I bring it up often, but I would like to stress this point one last time. We need some characters who are honest, not necessarily good but honest, as contrast to the nihilistic opportunists who don’t give a fuck about anything but how to make bank. The actor playing Allister Thorne, who’s name now escapes me, has done a great job in this show, his character always comes off as one of the more believable ones. So he did a good, job, and the portrayals of Davos and Melisandre was overall solid, I have nothing major to complain about and this sub-story of the show remains one of the more reliable ones with regards to quality. There were some details though, that bothered me and that I should also cover. Nothing big here, nothing that brings entire segments of the episode down like certain lines of dialog from Dorne last season that I am trying to forget, but still some troublesome details.
How is it, and I’ll do this in the form of questions, that a whole army of wildlings, including a giant, can sneak up on Castle Black and no alarms are raised before the giant smashes the gate? Sure there are wildings everywhere after Jon let them through the wall, but seeing how Allister and his band of mutineers hate wildlings you would have thought that they would leave a dude up in a tower with a crossbow and some sort of musical instrument with which to make noises if he sees something. But yeah, sure, it wasn’t that big a deal, I flinched, ignored it and then the episode went on.
Keeping my complaints in the form of questions, how is it that a known illiterate like Davos Seaworth has to more or less blurt out “uhm, do you know a spell or something?” before Melisandre, and ancient and well-read sorceress, remembers to try one out? Alright, she was depressed and apathetic, and maybe Davos was just throwing around wild guesses rather than knowing that the red clergy could do stuff like this. But we have in the books been led to believe that Thoros of Myr was still a degenerate drunk when he pulled of his first revival. Because of that, and because Davos is who he is and Melisandre having birthed shadow-creatures, it comes off as rather odd that he has to convince her to try this.
Just to be clear though, I may have sounded bitter in the text above, but I still like the scenes at the wall, if they are representative of the entire season this is going to be the next best season after season one. In this episode, the same can be said for the events in King’s Landing where we got some really good scenes. Jamie’s conversation with the High Septon was great, book Jamie would of course have killed the old man where he stood after what happened to Cersei but show Jamie is a great character in his own right, and the more this season focuses on him the better.
Cersei’s sceen with Tommen reminded me, once again, of her scene with Joffrey in episode one where he asked her who their enemies are and she answered that it’s anyone who isn’t them. This is good character building, it shows what motivates the character and it sure helps that the dialog is well written. Here I might mention a couple of good details that weigh up for the bad ones i listed above. I liked how the soldiers Tommen had sent to keep Cersei locked up interacted with Quyburnstein’s monster. They never actually said much abut him, they just spoke with Cersei and threw the occasional glance up at the towering abomination. Great acting, and a much better way of building up the risen Gregor as a threat than having him kill some drunk in an alley, a turn of events that while not terrible was kinda meh.
Jamie’s comment of “how are you going to punish me for my sins” or whatever he said, when the High Septon said that Cersei had paid for her sins, was great in that it showed so much. It showed that beyond the piety, the faith militant are thugs, they got to Cersei only because they could physically overpower her. Jamie revealed what they both knew, that if they tried to arrest Jamie he would start killing people, and all the High Septon’s mumbo jumbo aside he was not prepared to take that risk yet.
The low point of this episode was the death of Roose Bolton, not because anyone would miss that blood sucker but because between this and Doran’s demise, the death of relatively major characters is starting to become a banality. Yeah, sure this is Game of fucking Thrones, anyone can go at any time, nobody is safe, wohoo and so on. But we are getting to the point where there seems to be no consequences to the violence, A Song of Ice and Fire should never be about how when you kill the boss, you simply become the new boss.
When the Frey’s did the Starks in, they suffered the consequences of being called all kinds of things and never trusted again by anyone, not even their allies. Ramsey killing Roose and Ellaria killing Doran seemed easy by contrast, and I fear that as the season progresses these kills will not turn out to be natural dramatic turns of events but simply yet more cases of the writers trying to maintain the “who will die in this episode”-hype of the show. It is at this point getting so bad that I am imagining conversations along the lines of “last season we burned a girl alive, what can we do to up that, how about setting dogs loose on a mother and her infant?”. The problem is that it looks to easy and, again, trivial. Why in the seven hells would a Karstark betray Roose for Ramsey? How did he convince that Karstark fellow to do that?
There you have it, a very good but not excellent episode, say a strong 8/10. Next week the review will be a bit late, hopefully published on Wednesday, because I’ll be out traveling in southern Europe. I’m not dead in other words, if rumors start circulating.