By Ystyn Francis

The novels in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series approach its grand tale from the perspective of different characters. While not necessarily original, it is a highly effective process that is very well-realised by Martin because each player is given a significant portion of the respective book to establish their own voice as well as promote their agenda. It is so engaging, in fact, that it is not uncommon for the reader to fluctuate from frustration at being ripped away from one person’s story to pure engrossment when they are reacquainted with another. However, while it is incredibly hard to fault Game of Thrones on any front – except, possibly, its unnecessarily wanton moments of sexual depravity – the balance between each character’s journey that is so finely poised in the novels is not translated to the screen as consistently. In particular, having made a mental note of her one short scene in “The Night Lands” a week ago, the absence of Daenerys and her dragons in “What is Dead May Never Die” became far more prominent this time round. Instead, it is a Tyrion-heavy episode which, while hugely entertaining in and of itself, just didn’t seem to faithfully sustain the epic, multi-faceted nature that Game of Thrones has established. Yes, I understand there are many, many characters who all need their fair share of screen time, but Daenerys just seems too pivotal to the longevity of the narrative to all-but leave out for two weeks straight.

The nitpicking aside, the increasing scope of the series continues to take shape in fascinating ways as we are introduced to even more characters including the massive warrior Brienne and ‘King’ Renly’s new queen, Margaery Tyrell, a perfect piece of typecasting after Natalie Dormer’s scheming role as Anne Bolyn in The Tudors. Bran continues to suffer through disturbing ‘dreams’ where he becomes a direwolf and the king’s guards return to reign death and destruction on Arya’s group heading for The Wall in their search for Robert Baratheon’s bastards. And Tyrion’s triple-headed approach to uncovering Queen Cersei’s mole in the council is a piece of genius from both the dwarf and the writers and directors.

However, as per the books, no matter how interesting the lore and the aesthetic of the Iron Islands may be, Theon Greyjoy, who segues from being a prominent bit player in the first book/season to be an actual main figure in the outing two, is on his way to completing the impossible: could the audience possibly learn to hate him more than King Joffrey? He is a really, really unlikable man whose behaviour in this and previous episode is really starting to stink.

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3 Responses

  1. Chris Mayer

    I loved the casting of both Margaery Tyrell and Brienne. I was a little dubious when I saw photos of Gwendoline Christie, but after the fight I had shivers down my spine waiting for the reveal under the helm, and it blew me away. Can’t say much about her acting yet, as she hasn’t done much. :)

    I do agree about the lack of Daenerys, they need to keep having a touch point with her every episode. The dragon finale was truly spectacular for people who have read the books, and for the TV only consumers. I dont think it is a spoiler to say that her story is one of the major slow burns of the series, however the TV presentation, especially for non readers needs her regularly to give her character a point.

    * NOT REALLY SPOILING ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY BELOW BUT NON READERS MAY NOT WANT TO CONTINUE *

    I feel like maybe you are telegraphing Theon a bit in the review. People who haven’t read the books would see him firstly as: “Who is that guy again?”, secondly as: “Oh yeah Robb Stark’s ‘right hand man'” and lastly as: “Conflicted about his duty between the man who was ostensibly his brother, the kin he never really knew, and the honor of his birthright”. I can’t actually say that non readers are anywhere near hating him… Yet.

    Reply
    • Ystyn Francis

      Chris, I see (and even agree with) your point and seriously considered it before posting. However, my thoughts are based more upon the cementing of Theon’s questionable morality, most clearly emphasised by his HORRIBLE treatment of women and his ‘woe is me’ attitude. I was really turned off by his sexual antics at the commencement of the second book (despite how awesome the verbal interplay between his sister and himself was) and wasn’t really keen to see them come to pass on the screen (which they did). And there are so many characters in the ‘GoT’ world who have been dealt really terrible hands but he is by far the biggest whinger of them all (is he more hardly done by than Sansa or Sam, for instance?). It is also interesting to note how aestheitcally unappealing he has become – he really is starting to look like a twisted soul inside, and all he really has done is use and abuse women…so far. Good comment though; the reproach needed to be made. :)

      Reply
  2. Sohel

    Great reviews guys! I’m filanly caught up with them and the show.Pretty much agree with everything you’ve said, the show is fantastic and they’ve done a great job ramping it up week to week.If I had one complaint, it would be the “made up” scenes interjected into the show. By “made up” I mean the scenes not in the book, like the soft core porn one you refer to. For some reason they feel almost out of character even though they are right on point for those characters.I don’t really understand this Eddard controversy. Eddard is honor bound to tell the Queen what he knows and give her a chance to flee because she is the queen. Once he gets the king’s permission, then she is fair game. Until then, she is still the queen honor dictates he serves. This all goes back to the Stark Family motto: “Winter is coming.” where the only thing that holds society together is that sense of honor and duty ingrained in their family.So, the second thing I might point out is this should have been emphasized more.All in all, having read the book, I’m looking forward to the next episode and Season 2 “Clash of Kings”!

    Reply

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