Wednesday, April 27, 2011
(Ep. 1 -- "Winter is Coming" reactions.)
So here we are, episode 2 of Game of Thrones: "The Kingsroad." I actually saw this one immediately after the premiere episode, so needless to say I had a double-dose of pure awesomeness in one sitting! As before, I will provide you with my scene-by-scene reactions exactly as they occur while I sit in front of the tv and bask in this show's glory.
But before I do, here's a recap of where we left off last episode:
King Robert Baratheon asked Eddard Stark to be his next Hand. After much deliberation, he finally agreed.
Catelyn, Ned's wife, believes the previous Hand, Jon Arryn, was murdered. Her sister and Arryn's widow, Lysa, believes that the Lannisters were behind it.
Queen Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister, are aware that Jon Arryn went to his grave carrying knowledge of a troubling secret they're keeping from the King.
Jon Snow, Ned's illegitimate son, is going to head north and "take the black" -- becoming a man of the Night's Watch at the Wall. Tyrion, younger brother to Cersei and Jaime, will accompany him there to get a glimpse of the marvelous structure himself.
Across the Narrow Sea in Pentos, exiled scions of the previous Targaryen Dynasty plot to raise an army that will retake Westeros and restore the Iron Throne to its rightful occupier. Viserys Targaryen marries his younger sister, Daenerys, to the lord of a vast army of nomadic horsemen, Khal Drogo. He hopes the alliance will bring him the crown.
At Winterfell, home of the Starks, Ned's 10 year old son, Brandon, stumbles across Cersei and Jaime's secret -- they are lovers! Jaime pushes Bran out of a tower window to protect this secret.
"The things I do for love."
And now, on to episode 2!
The episode starts off with a recap of the previous one. That sucks. No prelude before the opening credits like the premiere episode had. But I liked that! Now it means each episode will be quite a bit under an hour, since they're wasting valuable space on the recap. Argh!
Title opener still rocks -- HARD!!! New location on the map. Instead of Pentos, we get the Dothraki Sea. I'm guessing this episode will show Drogo's khalasar on the move through the grasslands as they head back to their tribal lands.
Speak of the devil. The Dothraki Sea! Wow, it's like it came straight off the pages. Khal Drogo's blood riders look adequate. Nothing special.
Ser Jorah offers Daenerys horse jerky. That's right, jerky made out of horses. The same horses they've been riding all day long.
"People can't live on grass."
Uh, thanks dude. How did you know that's what I was craving?
Tyrion wakes up in the hay stacks of Winterfell with a pack of bitches all over him. Unfortunately, they're of the four-legged variety. He sure does love him his ale and bitches, don't he? The problems arise, tho, when you have too much of one over the other. Amirite?
OMG! Best. Scene. EVAR!!! Joffrey gets pimp-slapped by his midget uncle not once, not twice, but--count 'em--THREE fucking times! I'm jumping up and down inside with joy!
Pay your respects to Lady Stark, boy.
Why should I?
Joffrey whimpers like a little girl. I'm telling mother.
You will show your proper respects.
You can't make me.
Bratty spoiled prince runs away. Only thing this scene is missing is Renly laughing his ass off. Hey, where the hell is the King's youngest brother anyway? Haven't seen him this entire series.
The scene was so epic that Rick "five-fingers-to-the-face" James walked in and fist-bumped Tyrion before running off. Now if only someone would make a .gif out of it . . .
Priceless! (Click on the pic to see the slap in motion)
Oh man, I just love pregnant pauses like this.
Tyrion comes to breakfast. Myrcella asks: "Will Bran live?"
Tyrion says: "Apparently so."
Cersei gets this OH SHIT look on her face: "What do you mean?" (after a long pause).
Tyrion: "The Maester says the boy may yet live."
Now Jaime is thinking OH SHIT, too.
And Tyrion catches it all! You can't let shit slide pass Tyrion, stupids! He's the mother-effing MAN!!!
I'm loving the directing in this ep. so far!
Tyrion: "I hope the boy does wake. I'd be very interested to hear what he has to say."
Duh, duh, duh! That's the sound of the game being up, Lannister scum. I know he's one of you, but Tyrion won't let this pass. Bet.
Jaime: "My dear brother, there are times you make me wonder who's side you're on."
Tyrion: "My dear brother, you wound me. You know how much I love my family."
Apparently not as much as sister loves twin brother, though. And damn that exchange is from the book, too! Although I believe it comes at a later scene, not this early.
Daaaamn! Cersei is cold-blooded! She comes into Bran's room offering Cat her condolences. As if she had nothing to do with it. Lying wench! Then she has the nerve to relay a heartbreaking anecdote of her own lost son. If I didn't already know what a cold, calculating bitch the Queen is, I would almost be moved. Almost.
Still, the acting here was top-notch. My god, this show is AMAZING!
Jaime and Jon have a confrontation in the courtyard. Seems Jon is preparing to leave for the Wall after all. Yes!!! Jon is the man, and the Wall chapters are some of the best ever!
Jaime: "Give my regards to the Night's Watch. I'm sure it will be thrilling to serve in such an elite force. And if not . . . it's only for life." *salty smirk*
These Lannisters are right assholes, are they not? I'm loving it!
Oh GAWD . . . this scene was so beautiful. And touching! Damn near broke my heart seeing Arya throw herself into her big brother's arms to say goodbye. Jon and Arya are like best of buds, in case you don't know.
And how cute is Arya's direwolf, Nymeria? My, the pups are all grow'd up! *cackles with delight*
This is an excellent scene.
Oh no, another tear jerker. Jon saying his goodbyes to a comatose Bran.
Eww, Cat giving Jon the stank eye. Fer fook's sake, woman, he might never see his little bro again! Give a bastard a break, why don't you? Sheesh!
I'm still loving Cat, though. Awesome casting choice, fans be damned! They say the actress looks too old. Fuck you, bitches! You want old? I'll give you my old boot leather up the ass!
Jon says goodbye to Robb, the eldest of Ned's legitimate Stark children. I wish I could have seen more of their camaraderie on screen. I get the feeling some people still don't know who the fuck Robb is. Too bad. He's another awesome character, which you probably won't figure out until the second season.
Okay, I'm saying too much now. Arya just walked into my living room and told me: "Shut up!" Since she now knows which side of the sword to use--the "pointy end"--I will do as she says.
Side note: HBO in HD is what I imagine the gods on Olympus must see the world as. It is just FABULOUS! This show looks gorgeous.
On the Kingsroad, large party of the King turns and heads south. Small detachment with Tyrion and Uncle Benjen turn north toward the Wall. John and Ned have a moment before they split ways.
Ned: "The Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years. And you are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood!"
Jon wants to know about his real mother. But Ned doesn't feel it's the right time. Next time I see you, he promises, we'll talk about your mother.
Oh Ned . . .
Large exposition scene. For those who've read the books, I imagine this isn't as compelling as to those who are at this point starving for more exposition. We learn that Robert and Ned use to go out drinking and wenching in their youth. Well, Robert did most of the wenching, of course. And I'm sure a fair bit of the drinking as well. But we learn the name of Ned's mistress, at least. The one who was Jon's mother: Wylla.
We also learn that Robert is aware of Daenerys having married a Dothraki horse lord. Ned can't believe his friend is suggesting assassination. She's only a child!
Hmm, hint here that Robert may not be the same man Ned remembers from back during the Rebellion. Time will only tell . . .
Daenerys is experiencing the "Dothraki Way" once again. In Westeros it's called direwolf-style, no doubt:
Damn, Khal Drogo's tearing that up like she owes him rent money! Whoa!
Aww, poor girl. Luckily I know where this is going--and trust me, it will be GLORIOUS!--because right now I imagine this is looking pretty damn glum to those not in the know.
LOL! Tyrion is such a smug bastard. Jon has just learn that he will be joining the Watch along with rapists, thieves, and other assorted convicts.
"Not impressed with your new brothers?" *smirk*
You know, I should start calling it the Lannister smirk. Seems to run in the family.
Tyrion: "My brother has his sword, and I have my mind. And a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone."
Damn, that's deep. Nice one!
And yeah, I just checked: Peter Dinklage still rocks! I like his faux British accent just fine, thank ye.
And--OMG! A Ghost sighting! That's the name of Jon's direwolf, btw. You only see him briefly in a wide shot, but he looks BEAUTIFUL!
Back at Winterfell. Castle's half empty now that Ned and a good deal of the household left for King's Landing.
No, STUPIDS!!! A barn spontaneously bursting into fire is NOT good. It's a diversion!!!
Yeah, that's what the FUCK I'm talking about! Filthy assassin tried to kill Bran, but momma Cat protected him like a lioness protecting her cub! Then Bran's direwolf came rushing in and tore that sellsword a new air hole. Lots and lots of blood. Oooh, I like the gore on this show, I do!
The dog still doesn't have a name, though. Damn, wake up Bran!
Daenerys in a tent. Her three handmaids tend to their khaleesi. Looks like they're giving her a bath in mare's milk. Huh.
Mmm, the curly-haired, caramel skin girl is HAWT!!! It is known, indeed! Bet she dies first. What? Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
They tell her about dragons. Correction: they tell YOU, the viewer, about dragons. Dany should already know this, since the Targaryens are supposed to be descended from dragons.
No, don't send the cute handmaid away! She was awesome. Why'd you have to keep the white, Eastern European-looking one?
Hmm, she's not bad either on second thought.
Oh. My. God. The Wall looks amazing! Tyrion, Jon, and Benjen all look scruffy and dirty as fuck, as befitting a few weeks on the road. Nice attention to detail, HBO!
Back at Winterfell, Lady Stark does some Crime Scene Investigating. Roger Daltrey and The Who wander in from stage right and start singing: Whoooo are you? Who who, who who??
Hmm, continuity gap here. Me not likey. It's been weeks since Bran fell, but she's only investigating the old drafty tower, completely open to the elements, now? And in all that time, a long strand of Cersei's blonde hair is conveniently still to be found?
Ah, yeah, I'm calling bullshit.
Cat assembles the remaining loyal Winterfell staff and tells them her suspicions. Fancy knife too fancy for a common assassin to be using. Must have got it from someone high born. Looks like she's going to follow Ned to King's Landing.
Uh, milady . . . do you not realize you have two young boys still at home? And one of them is in a fucking COMA?
Hmmm, not this episode's strongest scene. Don't remember it being this hokey in the book. I'll chalk it up to shoddy directing/writing, then.
Don't do it again, guys. Please!
Oh boy, girl on girl grinding. Dany's handmaid schools her in the finer points of getting the freak on. With clothes on, tho. Hey -- it's like Cinemax!!!
Dany's got herself a brand new bag! Wonder if she'll use her new sex tricks on the Khal?
Oh god, please don't fuck up that scene later . . .
Oh, looks like later is right the fuck now.
Uh, guys, too many fucking shots of the damned dragon's eggs! How big is that goddamn hammer you want to hit over the newbies' heads? Tone it down. *shhhhhh!*
Hmm, could do without gratuitous man ass shot. But the Lady's Man just walked in and winked knowingly at me, saying: Hey, it's for the LAAADIES!
But he agreed with me that, yeah . . . uh, that's nasty.
Dany finally finds her self respect (gods be praised!) and takes matters into her own hands, on her terms. Drogo's expression says: Hmmm, me likey!
Okay, that wasn't so bad. Sorta on track now with the book. Sorta.
Stop along the Kingsroad. Sansa's out walking her direwolf, Lady (of course!), and looking oh so prettily vapid.
Love the actress, hate the character.
She bumps into the King's executioner, Ser Ilyn Payne. Damn this dude gots a mean old mug on him! I'm surprised Lady didn't bite his balls off for bumping into Sansa like that and scaring her witless. Heh, heh. Witless. Get it? Too late for that!
Sandor Clegane--aka, the Hound--makes the scene five times as scary. And--aw fer fuck's sake! Now the slimy prince Joffrey shows up as well. I think I'm going to need a tetanus shot.
Sansa is suddenly all butterflies and rainbows. Leaves Lady behind to go walking with the girly prince. Stupid, stupid girl!
Aww, fuck. I forgot about this scene in the book. Arya and the butcher's son, Mycah, playing with sticks pretending to be sword fighting.
Poor Mycah, this won't end well. . .
Arrgh! Goddamn, I fucking HATE this bastard Joffrey. I'm so mad!!!
YEAH! That's what I'm fucking TALKING ABOUT! Nymeria comes to the rescue and takes a nice big chunk out of this candy-assed prince! Don't be messing with my mistress, fucktard!!!
LOL @ Joffrey. He really does sound like a little bitch, don't he? Don't like it when the tables are turned, eh Little Lord Fauntleroy? Snivel for your life you little brat!
Yeah! Arya's got bigger balls than you, punk! Threw his sword right into the river. Hope you know how to swim.
And, damn! Sansa is such a dumbass. You're the reason why women end up on milk cartons.
Aww, no! Not this scene! Poor Nymeria's got the biggest, saddest eyes evar! The King's men are out searching for her. Arya had to do the only thing she could to save her dog.
Oh god, it's so heartbreaking to watch. No, stop! Run away, Nymeria. Perhaps you two shall be reunited later in the series? Much, much later . . . .
Argh! I so didn't want to watch this scene. I hate this.
Stupid whiny girl prince! Even your father can't believe you let a girl best you. Not that I blame you, Arya is quite the little warrior already. But still -- man the fuck up!
Oh god, I forgot just how stupid Sansa can be. Never go against your own blood, you stupid bitch!
God, no, not Lady! They can't find Nymeria to punish, so they're going to put down Lady instead. What fucking sense does that make? Cersei's a cunt! There, I said it! Who's going to disagree?
Ned looks at Robert. Can't believe this is the same man he once knew. What the fuck happened to you, dude? You let your cunt of a wife tell you how to dispense justice? Even you know your son is a little punk bastard that got what he deserved.
You suck, fat man!
Ned offers to do the terrible deed himself rather than let that "butcher", Ilyn Payne, lay his hands on the direwolf, the sigil of the North.
Ned bumps into Sandor Clegane on his way out. Seems the Hound ran the butcher's boy down and is now bringing his body back. Oh, what a loyal dog you are to your bitch-ass master, Joffrey.
Wow, Sean Bean is such an awesome actor! You can see the gravitas and sorrow in his eyes and face.
Aww, Lady is sooooo beautiful! I feel like crying.
Close-up of Bran in bed back at Winterfell. Eyes fly open.
Fuck YEAH, BOYEEEE!!!!
Hmmm, that was a rather quick episode. It was good, but it felt like not much really happened, too. I guess we can't expect the real awesome sauce until the King's Landing episodes. The scenes that really worked for me were the ones where Jon is saying his goodbyes to each of his siblings; the Lannister breakfast scene at the beginning; the forest rest stop conversation between Jon and Tyrion; the Bran bedchamber fight with the assassin; and, even though it pains me to say it, the Joffrey and Arya scene. That one was beautifully shot, despite how hard it was to watch.
The scenes that didn't work for me as well: Handmaid pelvic grind; CSI: Winterfell; and the roadside lunch scene between Ned and Robert. Those felt rather weak, but ultimately not deal breakers.
To be honest, I thought this episode was better than the first one. And mostly because of the emotional investment in a lot of the Winterfell scenes. Jon gifting Needle to Arya, and the obvious closeness between them is so sweet to watch in what is otherwise a very grim and grey landscape at Winterfell. And although it was so heart-wrenching to see, the two key direwolf scenes--Nymeria being run off, and poor Lady--had that emotional gravitas you need in an HBO show to keep this from delving into mindless fantasy tripe.
So, yeah, whereas the first episode was more set-up and character introductions, this episode gives us more character development and emotional anchoring. Nicely done! And I'm very much looking forward to what comes next. Because trust me, we're still not at the point where this book gets really good!
That being said, I'm so happy we'll be getting a new director in episode 3 next week. Tim Van Patten is usually awesome in other HBO signature series: The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Boardwalk Empire, to name a few. But it's clear that fantasy is not where his heart lies. His directing of these first two episodes was adequate at best; insipid and uninspired at worst. Maybe the next handful of directors will have more verve for the material.
I hope so.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Stay tuned next week for my reactions to Ep. 3: "Lord Snow".