Game of Thrones – 53

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Spoilers, spoilers, blah blah blah…












Well, then – another pretty solid episode of Game of Thrones.  What I especially liked about it was the fact that it was incredibly dense and eventful without relying on pure action and violence (though there was some – this is Game of Thrones, after all).  What I didn’t like was that there’s a sad predictability to certain storylines – and I’m especially thinking of the events towards the end of the episode which just piss me the fuck off.

I know he’s the headliner and he started the episode, but we all know he’s alive now so I think it’s safe to end with Jon Snow (after all, the episode did – Castle Black was the only locale that got two visits) rather than start with him:

I think Bran’s trip to the past wth the Three-Eyed Raven is at least a co-headline this week.  This was the goddam Tower of Joy, for crying out loud!  Few moments in Westeros history hold as much fascination for hardcore fans as this one. It must be said first that the actor playing young(ish) Ned Stark, Robert Aramayo, looks enough like Sean Bean to comfortably suspend disbelief.  This story, of course, depicts the fight between Ned Stark and the man held to be the best swordsman in the realm, Ser Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) – an event recounted to young Bran Stark countless times.  But you know what they say – the winning side writes history.

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There are several fascinating elements to this development, not least of which is that it seems very likely Benioff and Weiss would never have included it if a certain theory about a certain bastard’s lineage weren’t true.  But setting that aside, why did the Raven take Bran here?  I suspect it was to teach him a lesson about the elasticity of truth – to teach him to always question that which he thinks he knows.  The look on Bran’s face when he saw that his father only “won” because Howland Reed (now there’s a loyal bannerman) stabbed Dayne in the back was gutting, but it’s a good lesson – and it’s also the first time we’ve seen that Ned had this sort of deceitful behavior in him.  It was also highly relevant that Ned seemed to hear Bran speak to him (implications galore), and that the Raven told Bran he “won’t be here forever”.  What does Bran’s fate hold for him?

Varys is always one of the highlights of this series, no small thanks to the genius of Conleth Hill.  We finally see who his little birds are – orphans and urchins, the children he trusts far more than adults (and Qyburn is making use of his old flock in King’s Landing).  Speaking of K.L., poor decent Kevan Lannister makes a return, along wth Olenna.  I can’t imagine Kevan is long for this world, since for him the realm comes before blood.

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I quite liked the scene between Tommen and the High Sparrow.  Jonathan Pryce is a ridiculously good actor, and this is an appealingly difficult character – he’s no con man, he believes what he preaches.  Tommen at heart is a simple, decent (and doomed) kid, and it’ll be interesting to see if he falls under the Sparrow’s sway.  I also thought Arya’s arc upticked markedly this week, which is good because it’s been stuck in neutral for way too long.  I was most interested here by her admission that she took The Hound off her list – that she was conflicted about him, in the end.  Remember – we never saw the body, and  haven’t given up hope.  As for Danerys, I continue to find her storyline a yawn, and shudder at the thought of her ending up on the throne.  I dislike her more and more each season.

Now we come to the third co-headline of the week.  Yes, the “gift” Ramsey received was exactly what it seemed likely to be.  To be blunt, I’m sick and tired of Ramsey winning all the time.  I’m sick of him committing atrocities against children and innocents and never paying a price for it.  And I’m sick of northern lords being reprehensible scumbags.  What happened to “The North remembers”?  Did it forget?  I’m just not buying Smalljon Umber’s argument for why he’s screwing the Starks to side wth Ramsey Bolton.  How many Umbers died at the damn Red Wedding?  It just doesn’t pass the sniff test.

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Frankly, if this follows the predictable path and Rickon and Osha end up flayed on a Bolton cross, my patience wth Game of Thrones will be stretched very thin.  This whole Ramsey arc is a broken record.  I’ve always chalked it up to wishful thinking, but even before this Rickon development there was a theory called “The Great Northern Conspiracy” which suggests that the North really does remember – that the northern lords (Umbers, Manderlys, Reeds, Mormonts et al) are secretly plotting towards a rebellion against the Boltons.  This theory would hold that what we saw this week was a ploy by the Umbers – that Rickon is in on the plan (or at least that the plan is to get a Stark into Winterfell, and tongues to wag about it), and that wolf’s head was not Shaggydog’s, but just a wolf.  I would love for that to be true, but I have serious doubts.

If in fact there is meat on the bones of the Great Northern Conspiracy, it would seem to rest in the hands of Jon Snow to ride at its head.  But I suspect he’ll be calling himself Jon Stark if he does, and probably even if he doesn’t.  Thank goodness for Jon that it was Davos Seaworth he saw first – practical, sensible Davos Seaworth.  We don’t know yet how Jon has been changed by his experience, but at the very least it’s traumatized him brutally.  “Nothing.  There was nothing.” he answers when Miracle Mel asks what he saw after he died (which seems to put to bed the notion that he warged into Ghost).  But Jon has good, loyal friends – Davos, Tormund (who gets a rise out of him with a pecker joke), Dolorous Edd.  “Hold of on burning my body for now” Jon tells his friend – a touching way of saying “Don’t worry – it’s still your friend in here”.

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Lord Commander Dolorous Edd?  Words I never thought I’d say, but it seems as if that’s where we’ve landed.  Jon executes the traitors, including of course Thorne and Olly – he probably had no choice, but being a Stark at heart he’s not going to fob off that duty on anyone else.  Thorne goes down true to himself, to give him his due – he too seemed to believe he was doing the right thing.  But for Jon, this seems to be the final straw, the final act of his service.  He seems to feel he’s given the last full measure of his devotion to the Watch, and while he never asked to be brought back, now that he is he intends to follow his own desires for once.  That presumably means paying back the likes of the Boltons and the Freys – and eventually the Lannisters – back with interest for what they did to his family.  And if indeed that’s the case I don’t begrudge him one bit – he’s earned that, and for fuck’s sake, somebody needs to do it.





  1. In a show like this, any morsel of comedy should be good, and they sure delivered! And after all that they have been through since season 1, it’s nice to see that the Starks are kind of rising from the ashes in each of their own ways. What a formidable group they would be should they all come together (or might be another trick to make us root for them and then they all get killed off).

  2. T

    I’m about to drop this show if something happens to rickon. I’m sick of Starks being destroyed and run down each and every time. If there is anything the Stark children are learning is that being honorable and kind are not assets that will help them in the end. Its almost like what Tyrion said last season “there needs to be the right kind of terrible”. After all the bullshit they have been through I’m sure they have all learned how to balance being Starks at heart, but also learning to make decisions that will not make appear honorable or just in the end, but they need to survive.

    I’m tired of Ramsey winning and I so desperately want this asshole to die already.

    That being said I look forward to seeing how Tyrion is going to stop the conflicts in the east through strategy and wits alone. To me this is finally his chance to show everyone what he is capable of since his skills have been rendered while still living in Westeros and with his family. I’m interested to see how he will get the rich onto his and through extension Daenerys side.

    Overall I don’t know I’m just annoyed with Ramsey already he needs to die.

  3. They shouldn’t have cast for likeness re:young Ned, as the actor chosen didn’t appear to be quite right. His lines lacked believability. Other than that, it was a pretty good scene.

    Also, as much as I like Jonathan Pryce, the High Sparrow character type just doesn’t work for me. Unfortunately my feeling as a TV only viewer is he seems like he’s here for the long haul. Tomlin is sweet, but in that world acid is what cuts the fat.

  4. Y

    For some reason, I really, really wish for Sansa to be the one to murder Ramsey’s loathsome arse; I dare say I’d find that even more satisfying than Theon being his potential killer — at this point I detest little lord Bolton more than I ever detested Joffrey, and is that isn’t saying a ton, I don’t know what is.

    Other than that, I am seriously worried about Arya. I very much don’t want her to lose her identity, and I hope her indoctrination process isn’t entirely irreversible.

  5. G

    Joffrey at least was a legitimately good character. Naw, screw that: great even. He was a character you hated infinitely, but you loved to hate him. You craved his death—but there was kind of a (is this bad?) joy in that craving. Detesting him and waiting on baited breathe for him to get his comeuppance was part of the appeal of the show.

    Ramsay is. . . just a bad character. You know how they say any writer can make an evil character who just does evil shit? Ramsay is the result of that. There’s no talent in the craft of him, in his villainy. Any morose, “edgy” teenager could write him.

    He takes the show down by his presence. I don’t want him gone because he was so perfectly crafted to poke my nerves in just the right way and create great well-strung tension (as Joffrey was). I want him gone cause he’s tiring and the show will be better with him gone.

  6. Ramsay doesn’t even have the power of lineage by his side, the one thing that allowed me to tolerate Joffrey was the possibility of a mad young king taking the throne in real life. Ramsay is just a lucky bastard who has been handed everything he wanted on a silver platter by the writers, to me that’s something extremely pointless to watch.

  7. If Arya doesn’t walk that path and lose her way, then the journey is cheapened. There’s more meaning if she becomes no one, than if she finds her way back home, imo.

  8. At this point the amount of negative karma Ramsay has accumulated is reaching critical mass. If he were made immortal by magic, then chained to a rock and condemned to be scorched by dragon fire by day and regenerate by night it’d barely be payoff for how much shit he did.

  9. Arya thought of Jon being a bastard, I feel sad when she get hit u.u

  10. M

    People sure do care a lot about a character that has received next to zero development. Poor lad.

    Varys is my only hope now that Tyrion has been relegated to filler-style material (eat, drink piss).

  11. e

    – What did Jon “you know nothing ” Snow see in the Great Beyond? I can appreciate his answer in the grand order of things among and against the lofty or petty beliefs evoked by the characters and parties of the play, but was that intentional humour? In any case… ” Nothing”. Yay for consistency :,). Yet talking of which where did his modesty cloth go? No mercy for the man’s little pecker. As a side note, someone in the troupe is probably a fan of Guido Reni’s flavour of naked martyrs. That light! That overkill marble-like smoothness!
    – Consistency II: Olly’s glares. Hakumen no Mono would be so proud.
    – Sooo… Lyanna is supposedly in that tower screaming ( childbirth [of the pecker’s owner], yes? ) but mystical crow man is just that much of a tease plus Bran’s call to Ned was threatening to rip the spacetime continuum I guess. Also I’ve just realized Bran’s actor now resembles my junior high’s first love an awful lot. It’s a bit distracting.
    – Poor Tyrion. Varys is the only other person at hand who can provide him with interesting conversation it seems. And thank goodness for these two for saving this bit of location/storyline.
    – Dany is now part of the Dothraki widows’ gloom club. How riveting! On the other hand I’m still trying to reconcile the level of technical sophistication required for those ginourmous horse metal statues with the Dothraki’s overall ‘seminomadic neolithic wildlings of the South’ lifestyle. Now that’s some juicy mystery :p. On the upside if this leads to some cool rescue-by-dragons… there’s this little mental image of Tyrion riding dragons a-la-Bastian-on-Falkor…
    – I find Jamie character’s arc to have nosedived since he parted ways with Brienne. Disappointed.
    – I need less Ramsay, more Olenna. Much more Olenna. Go go charismatic matriarch!
    – I really, really hope the whole ‘gift’ thing is a plan to backstab Ramsay…

  12. To be honest I found this episode especially weak, I’ve never been very invested in the past story of Game of Thrones even though that scene was probably the best of the episode(hooray for genuine tension in this show). Jon’s resurrection not having any repercussions annoyed be a bit, some effort has to come from characters we care about to bring him back, otherwise his dying feels kind of fillerish.

    But that brings me back to my main beef with the show, which is that nothing seems to be moving. I would have liked to see Jon spare Olly, it wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do but it would represent progressiveness, a breaking of the traditions that this show has been following since the first episode. The rest of the episode is chock full of stuff you’ve tread before and jokes that don’t really work, which is a big problem in a series like this that doesn’t have much time left.

  13. It’s still a little too early to see if Jon’s resurrection didn’t have any repercussions. I wouldn’t expect there to be any in the first episode. But whatever they are, they will be drawn out in the next few episodes, I’m sure.

  14. S

    But it’s not too early to see that the repercussions are very small.

  15. Yes it is.

  16. D

    What? The episode ended with him quitting his post in the Night’s Watch. Where do you think he’s going next, to twiddle his thumbs?

    Melisandre’s visions were true all along, she just had the wrong prince in mind, like she said. Jon will be at the head of the great battle in the snow.

  17. D

    Also, remember Tormund’s comment about the wildling’s thinking Jon’s “a god.” They will be the first members of his army, and presumably some of the other northern houses will follow.

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