Games of Thrones – 17

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“A Man Without Honor”

Who would have thought that the most layered and powerful moments from an episode of Game of Thrones would involve Jaimie, Cersei and Tywin Lannister?

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I make a habit out of not talking about general impressions the books more than I have to in these posts, but a couple of things are bursting to be said.  Something I noticed more and more as I read through this section – and deeper – of the novels is that in GoT, you tend to find humanity in places where you least expect it, and darkness in places where you least expect it.  You may feel differently, but that’s starting to come across in the TV series in a way that pleases me, despite the increasing number of significant changes to the plot.  The other thing I would say is this – I would try very hard to avoid spoilers for the rest of this season, because that’s going to be an important part of enjoying these last three episodes.  I promise you won’t find them my posts, and I’ll do my best to make sure they aren’t in the comments either.

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There are so many parallels between this story and Fate/Zero that I sometimes wonder if Urobuchi Gen is George R.R. Martin’s Japanese cousin.  I won’t bother re-hashing them again, but like F/Z, GoT the TV series seems to be at it’s best when it’s two people in a room, quietly talking.  These sorts of scenes are invariably more exciting than in the books, with this amazing company of actors bringing them to life.  The big set pieces are impressive, but it’s the conversation where this series really shines. 

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Let’s start with the magnificent bastard.  For my dollar, I’d be happy to listen to Tywin Lannister and Arya Stark talk for an hour every week.  They’re both so interesting – unreadable at some times, transparent at others.  Most of the dialogue between them at Harrenhal is TV original, and it’s brilliant – funny and full of subtext, as each probes the other relentlessly.  Tywin has grown fond of Arya, obviously – he finally admits this week that she reminds him of Cersei (surprised Arya didn’t gag there).  Arya is not as clever as she thinks she is – or rather, too much so for her own good, as Tywin says.  How much does he know – and how much does he suspect?  You can see Arya enjoying the battle of wits and wills more and more, getting herself into dangerous territory (“Careful now, Girl.”).  Perhaps she’s even grown fond of him, against her will.  I think the irony here is that these two are more alike than either of them realizes, in more ways than one.

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And then there’s the Kingslayer, Jaimie Lannister, almost absent this season but back with a vengeance tonight.  I’m going to point out a difference between the TV and the books because as it’s already happened, I don’t think it’s a spoiler – and that’s the fact that Jaimie didn’t kill his cousin Alton (Karl Davies).  It’s a TV-original addition and an interesting one, as the last ten minutes or so had come in humanizing Jaimie’s character during his amazing conversation with Alton.  Jaimie is a man of huge contrasts, and we’ve already seen him do terrible things – but that moment in the pen was quite a shock coming after that conversation.  Perhaps, more than the entire first season, we get a taste of the complexity of Jaimie’s nature tonight.  “It’s a good thing I am what I am – I’d be useless at anything else.”

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Also prominent is Cersei, more human this week than in any prior episode.  We see clearly for the first time that she realized how far gone Joffrey is, and how dangerous his behavior is to the kingdom.  Her speech to Sansa (newly flowered, a bit of a stretch of credulity considering the casting choice) was almost as heartbreaking as her quiet talk with Robert from the first season.  “The more people you love, the weaker you are.”  Think about this statement and place it in the context of the twisted and tangled Lannister family dynamics, and you understand its significance.  With the news that Stannis’ fleet is mere days away, Cersei even allows herself a breakdown in front of Tyrion of all people, stricken with the possibility that her behavior has brought ruin on the Kingdom.  For just a moment, it appeared is if Tyrion actually thought about comforting her – and she considered not shoving him away if he did.

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There’s lot of action in the North and in the Far East too – though the title of the episode is obviously referring to Jaimie, it could as easily apply to several men in the episode.  It’s in Qarth that the story is taking it’s wildest divergence from the books, and the twisted politics of the place have swept Danerys up in their midst.  North of the Wall the daggers are verbal ones, where Ygritte mercilessly teases and tempts Jon “pure as the driven” Snow with her womanly ways, and explains for our benefit the differences between the Free People and the Southerners before leading Jon into a trap.  And lastly, there’s our final man without honor – Theon Greyjoy, seemingly willing to go to any lengths to try and reclaim his honor in the eyes of his people.

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  1. J

    Damn, serious good review there Enzo! Pleasure to read it all, honestly.

    *Puts on Grammar Nazi hat* Two (small) grammar issues:

    -(fourth paragraph) " For my dollar, I’d be happy to listen to Tywin Lannister and Arya Stark talk for an hour ever week." Did you mean 'every'?
    -(lasy paragraph) "..thought the title of the episode is obviously referring to Jaimie.." Did you mean 'though'?

    Now, onto the episode…

    I feel like this is second episode this season where no major stuff happened (at least compared to other big shocks this season has had), but that it was damn good enjoyable nonetheless, as usual.

    -Wonderful wonderful wonderful actors. Cat, Cersei, Jon Snow, Jorah, the list goes on an on. This cast has really grown on me.

    -I say F/Z doesn't hold a candle against GoT, heh.

    -Total agree with the Arya and Tywin interactions! They are too good for my own good; there's always danger and thirst for verbal victory in those discussions. Tywin's actor has really grown on me (Arya did that a long time ago, ofc..)…Damn! I'm gonna have a hard time seeing members of this wonderful cast die ;_;

    Predictions, just for the fun of it:

    -I fear Jon Snow will eventually change sides, much like Greyjoy did (hopefully he'll keep his honor and manners, though). Maybe he'll switch to the side of the wildlings, who, maybe, are not such bad guys after all.

    -Ohh this story and its cruel fates. Ned Stark is imprisoned and dies a dishonorable death, without glory or victories to end his life. Lannisters, though, apparently do more bad when imprisoned than when they were free. God, the bastard suspects he's going to be killed that night, so he decided to tempt Cat to kill him; he knows that would stir the army's ranks. Evil sonuvabitch!

    -Damn, I really don't want to see Joffrey and Sansa children. The jerk doesn't deserve it. Hopefully he'll get killed by this season finale, heh…

    -In the North….LOL, no matter how dramatic the music is, I'll never believe those two children died just like that. Given his previous actions, I doubt Greyjoy is secretly hiding them for their own good, though…The woman and the big teddy bear guy haven't be seen in that execution either. I really doubt they'd write all those characters off the story as emotionless than that. GoT has proved that if they're going to kill a character, they're going to make it hard for you to watch it, lol.

    -Far East…Screw the Kalheesi and her dragons! Jorah, don't die please, you deserve the Seven Kingdoms ;_;

  2. J

    (last paragraph)* Oops.

  3. I

    I'm expecting a huge battle eventually but until then this was easily the best episode of the season so far.

    Only 2 (unofficially 3) Starks still alive unless this was a big cop out since we never saw the capture and I think Bran mentioned there were orphan boys on the farm.

    Danerys is for me a huge pain to watch, I don't know if she is like this in the novels but the way she acts like a spoilt brat and goes on about "her" dragons is a right pain to watch. I think she needs a good (leave to your discretion).

    I'm still surprised Arya hasn't used her last kill with, I'm guessing, the Brotherhood guy on Tywin. May be she's realized that ironically he's all that stands between her and certain death (possibly rape) at Harrenhal.

    As for Jon he should come to anime, the way he deflects a woman's advances.

  4. Heh, interesting – Jon does act that way…

    I must confess the Danerys scenes tend to be my least favorite in every episode. I don't think Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen are doing a bad job by any means, but I have a harder time caring about their thread than any of the others.

  5. S

    Ohh the performance of Cat Stark in this episode!! Every single one of them trying to out talk/perform the others WITH THEIR FACES! At this point I'm actually kind of happy about the plot divergence, it certainly brings me back to the pure thrill I had watching season 1 and this politics in Quarth thing holds promise though i think that line might re-join the novel line at some point. *SHOCK* there's only 3 episodes left…thanks for reminding me Enzo 😛

  6. t

    The lack of incredibly forced "sexposition" scenes made this episode a lot easier to appreciate.

    It's tough to love really maturely well-written dialogue when the showrunners insist many of these conversations have to take place around boobs!

  7. e

    Those two charred kid corpses at the end must be the orphan boys mentioned earlier by Bran. Poor kids :,/ .

    I'm with you on the Arya&Tywin appreciation club. The mix of enmity, battle of wits, curiosity yet understanding/respect growing between them is just so gripping.

    Cersei showed some of her well hidden empathy and humanity this week, first with Sansa then with her despised younger brother.
    Yet at her 'do you think I haven't tried?' regarding Joffrey I was rolling my eyes. Please, woman. Your eldest son thinks he can do anything because he's a spoiled rotten arrogant brat at his core. I wonder who's to be held be responsible for his upbringing and education given your philosophy =_= . You were his accomplice with your putting him on a pedestal. Meh. If you have tried, you have done it too little too late.
    Cfr with Cat's sister and his insane kid in season #1. Incestuous bonds works in many ways.

    On the other hand, I'm not very fond of Shae's actress but I cheered at her support of Sansa this week. Pity it was all in vain againts the Hound's Sansadar ^^;;.

    About Jon (my darling iron woobie)… I wonder if that's just his character or the actor who leaves me wondering at his mental sharpness sometimes ^^;;. The girl is taunting you and she hits pretty close to home, but come on keep a cool mind if anything boy. Where had Ghost gone by the way?

    Last but not least… Jorah, why am I dreading for your life why? So many death flags for you so far.

  8. Just for the record, I'm neither confirming or denying any speculations made by commenters about future events, based on this ep. Don't assume anyone's guesses are right are wrong based on a lack for refutation (or confirmation) from yours truly.

  9. A

    there are a few spoiler-y posts in the comment section, please delete them.

  10. Hmmm – I don't see spoilers, I see a lot of wild guesses. Choosing which to delete now would only tip people off whether any of them were correct, so I think it's better to let them lie.

  11. Z

    I have to wonder what will happen to the original plots with the new stuff introduced for Bran and Danerys. I understand why they may want to change Bran's story as it was mostly an internal story, but Danerys was if anything too big I guess. So I guess we wont be seeing anything of what happened in the books with them for a while.

  12. Quite an advertisement for too much free time… Thanks for the link!

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