Posted in Television

Game of Thrones: Wait ‘Til Next Year

Speaking of next time...
Speaking of next time…

Are you in withdrawal yet?

Fortunately I started reading the “Song of Fire and Ice” series a couple of months ago to stave off the “Winter is Coming” dearth, post-Season Three. Yes, I know the books are door-stoppers, but I love a good page turner. Plus it’s interesting to see how and where the “Game of Thrones” show runners made their story-telling decisions, in terms of condensing and/or departing from the George R.R. Martin novels.

If you’ve read “A Storm of Swords,” the source material of Season Three, you were probably let down at least a bit by “Mhysa”, the season finale. You know what’s ahead (and yes, it’s absolutely incredible), and you were probably thinking that at least a hint of one of the coming events would have been a killer ending to the show for this year. However, this is HBO, and their series pattern is that the big surprise comes in the penultimate episode of each season. This has more or less been the case ever since Janice Soprano blew away Richie Aprile in Season Two of “The Sopranos” (good times). After the bloodbath of the Red Wedding, it made dramatic sense, at least for those who haven’t read the books, to bring it down a notch and prepare for what should be the mother of all “Game of Thrones” seasons.

And speaking of mother, that’s what “Mhysa” means in Ghiscari, the language of Yunkai. As applied to Daenerys Targaryen, I’m somewhat leery about the whole proposition. I thought the Yunkish adulation was scary rather than uplifting; I heard echoes of old newsreels of crowds worshiping Hitler and Mussolini, both of whom also styled themselves as liberators of their people. Dany will have her work cut out for her—in addition to her dragons, she’s going to have to manage that troika of a brain trust, not to mention the thousands upon thousands she’s now leading. That girl’s got a lot on her plate.

While Tyrion and Sansa’s conversation in the garden was unexpectedly charming (I loved her considerately taking a seat to be at his eye level), probably the best part of the episode involved the Hound and Arya. I liked his presence of mind in snatching up a Frey banner to make a clean getaway from the after-party slaughter of the Red Wedding. Arya’s witnessing the atrocity of her brother’s torso topped by Grey Wind’s head paraded about as the King of the North has got to be a line of demarcation in her life; the subsequent cruelty of hearing a Frey man brag about sewing the direwolf’s head onto Robb Stark’s body was the ultimate tipping point. Arya’s cunning in making puppy eyes as she begs for food, only to stab the Frey man with the Hound’s dagger, is the beginning of a far different life for her. The Hound’s “Next time tell me first,” while providing an easy laugh, was somewhat chilling in his recognition of what she’s becoming.

Speaking of Frey men, I fully expect some spectacular retribution vis-a-vis Walder Frey. Newton’s Third Law amplified is always in play in “Game of Thrones”: for every action there is sure to be an opposite and equal even bigger reaction. So I’m resting assured that when fate or the Starks catch up with him, his end (ditto Roose Bolton’s) will be spectacular. And we’ll all laugh like hell.

I fondly relished seeing Joffrey get bitch-slapped by his grandfather, who was not amused by his King’s characterization of his sitting on his posterior at Casterly Rock while Robert Baratheon took the crown. Watching the Lannisters en famille is always such a treat. So in addition to Dany, we had the pleasure of another mother’s company, namely Cersei’s, who waxed eloquent about her baby boy (I’m sorry, though—nowhere on God’s green earth was Joffrey ever a jolly little fellow). Evidently her love and compassion are finite, since she sure didn’t welcome Jamie back with open arms. Without a right hand he’s as freakish in her eyes as Tyrion. No twincest tonight.

Hopefully this episode finally saw the end of Theon Greyjoy torture porn. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the show runners gave this story so much air time, since (a) the Greyjoys have always been minor players and (b) Theon was never all that interesting to watch anyway once he turned on Robb Stark and botched his old man’s plans by insisting on taking Winterfell. The Bolton bastard’s chortling over his meal of sausages was eye-rollingly fifth grade humor, and frankly I expected better. While Yara’s coming to the rescue with the sea wind wafting through her hair looked like a commercial, it may be the start of a more interesting story arc.

I got a kick out of Samwell Tarly’s instant recognition of Bran Stark (“You’re the crippled one”). After so many near misses, it was a relief to see at least a second-hand reunion of relatives. On the other hand, nothin’ says lovin’ like shooting a quiverful of arrows into your boo, at least according to Ygritte. Jon, you done her wrong, and I suspect this won’t be the last we see of her. And kudos to Davos for freeing Gendry, who, while not the sharpest knife in the drawer, strongly reminds me of Wart, T.H. White’s Once and Future King Arthur.

The set-ups are in place for Season Four. In addition to the war and revenge plots already in motion, we’ve had heavy foreshadowing what with Shae most likely headed for not-a -happy-ending (when Varys tells you it’s best to get out of town, you go) and Melisandre’s pointing out that civil war doesn’t hold a candle to what’s in store with the White Walkers.

Is it next year yet?

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2 thoughts on “Game of Thrones: Wait ‘Til Next Year

  1. Echo all your sentiments, the Hound and Arya have long been two of my favorite characters to watch, and yes, every time Theon Greyjoy is on screen I simply want to yawn. Shae’s end will not be easy to watch, but will no doubt serve as a trigger of some sort. I’ve been tempted to read the books but having read all the Sookie Stackhouse tales felt cheated by what the showrunners did with True Blood, (even while Alan Ball was still there) which deviated so far from what was written as to be unrecognizable, in my opinion, so did not want the same frustrating experience with Game of Thrones. Still, it’s going to be a long wait, and though I know ‘winter is coming’ it’s not going to be an easy one.

    1. I’ve read the first book, am midway into the second and naughtily skipped ahead in the third and fourth books to see what happens with certain Starks and Lannisters (I’m not counting the time I spent in Barnes & Noble pouring over the appendix to the fifth book just to see who’s still alive). From what I’ve read, both in the books and online, the show is doing a decent job following what George R.R. Martin wrote.

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