Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon, Part 4 (2nd half of Season 2)

This post is Part 4 of 6.  Too see Part 5 click here.

The re-watch continues with the second half of Season 2, which cover roughly the second half of A Clash of Kings. Garrison is back to bring us up to speed.

Tyrion

This season is really Tyrion’s. I don’t think he’s the most important character (my money is still on Jon Snow and/or Daenerys) but his story arc is as compelling as anyone’s. Peter Dinklage gives amazing performances throughout and hits all his dramatic notes with the same perfection that he does his comic relief. Lena Headey also gives great performances as she struggles dealing with the monster that Joffrey is becoming.

Best Scenes

1. Anything between Tywin and Arya. I chose this one, because of Arya’s answer to Tywin asking what killed her father: “Loyalty.”

2. Jaime “bonds” with his cousin. There’s a couple great moments here, where Jaime is really humanized- and then he undoes it all.

Jaime takes time to bond with his enamored cousin, Alton, before killing him.

Jaime takes time to bond with his enamored cousin, Alton, before killing him.

3. Catelyn impugns Jaime’s honor. This scene fleshes Jaime out a little more and is a precursor to a lot we find out about him in Season 3. This was one of my favorite scenes on the rewatch, given what we now know about Jaime.

4. Much like Tywin and Arya, there are a lot of great Cersei/Sansa interactions in this season. You get the sense that she almost feels pity on Sansa. This scene is where Cersei first really acknowledges just how badly her progeny has turned out.

5. Tyrion/Cersei: More admitting Joffrey is awful… for good measure. There’s another scene with these two in episode 8 that is absolutely stellar, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the full scene on youtube.

6. The whole Wildfire sequence is just terrifically done. The best part about it (aside from the stunning visuals) is probably how clearly you can see the horror on Tyrion’s face as he hears the screams from the Bay.
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7. Tyrion owns Joffrey. Any scene that puts Joffrey in his place is a victory for us all.

Best Lines

Tyrion Lannister: We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot boy-king!
Tyrion to Joffrey during the Fleabottom riots. This whole exchange is great, really.

Robb Stark: And Theon… I want him brought to me alive. I want to look him in the eye and ask him ‘Why?’… and then I will take his head myself!

Tywin Lannister: This’ll be my last war… win or lose.
Arya Stark: Have you ever lost before?
Tywin Lannister: You think I’d be in my position if I’d lost a war?

"Have you met many stonemasons, my lord?"

“Have you met many stonemasons, my lord?”

Tywin Lannister: Hm. She’s a heroine of yours, I take it. Aren’t most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?
Arya Stark: Most girls are idiots.
Again, just about any exchange between Arya and Tywin is delightful, your choice.

Theon Greyjoy: It’s better to be cruel than weak.
Well, debatable, but at least Theon is trying to be his own person?

Sansa Stark: Does it give you joy to scare people?
Sandor Clegane: No, it gives me joy to kill people.
And this is the softer, kinder version of The Hound!

Jaime Lannister: I’m not well suited for imprisonment. Shocking, I know. Some men are. Ned Stark; I imagine he made an excellent prisoner right up until the end. But me, though – my life has left me uniquely unfit for constraint.
At least he’s self aware.

Tyrion Lannister: [to Cersei] I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.
Tyrion vows vengeance after Cersei takes Ros prisoner… which was vengeance for Tyrion sending Myrcella to Dorne, which was vengeance for…

Eddison Tollett: Great rangers never get old is the problem. [Bad] ones neither. It’s them in the middle that last a long time.
Not an impactful quote by a major character, but still noteworthy.

Joffrey Baratheon: If I tell the Hound to cut you in half, he’ll do it without a second thought.
Tyrion Lannister: That would make me the quarter-man. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Basically what I’m saying is, any time Tyrion slams Joffrey, it’s going to make this list…

Bronn: I saw you kill a man with a shield, you’ll be unstoppable with an axe.
Referencing Tyrion staving off attackers back in Season 1

Tyrion Lannister: There are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!
Believe it or not, there were *some* lines from Tyrion in Season 2 that weren’t completely awesome.

Tyrion: And I thought we were friends Varys: We are

Tyrion: And I thought we were friends
Varys: We are

Lord Varys: [to Tyrion] There are many who know that without you this city faced certain defeat. The king won’t give you any honors, the histories won’t mention you, but we will not forget.
Despite his demotion, Varys offers Tyrion the small consolation that at least some will remember his part in the Battle of Blackwater

Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish: [to Sansa Stark] Look around you, we’re all liars here, and every one of use is better than you.
Sansa is very much part of the “Game of Thrones,” but she’s still getting her feet under her.

Assorted Musings
– Theon’s turn in the TV series was totally unbelievable the first time I watched it, but only mildly unbelievable the second time. This is one area that the books do a much better job.
– Seriously, those Tywin/Arya scenes are so great. They have such great rapport with one another.
– The entirety of episode 9 is contained in King’s Landing. It’s a nice change of pace from lots of jumping around.
– When Balon Greyjoy declares himself King in the Iron Islands that gives us our fifth king in the “War of the Five Kings.” Of note, there were never actually five at the same time, as Renly had already been murdered at that point. Fun fact!
– The Hound is awesome. I’ll accept no other arguments.
– Cersei has a great arc in these episodes. She really starts to wonder how Joffrey came to be so awful. She still likes torturing Sansa, but at the same time she pities her. Cersei is the one who starts Sansa’s education in how to deal with her awful life to come.
– Varys said in season 1 that he serves only “the realm.” He backs that up in his helping Tyrion plan for the defense of King’s Landing. He does this out of no great love for the dwarf, but because he believes Stannis would make an awful king and is uncomfortable with his association with Melisandre.

*****

Full recap after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon, Part 3 (1st half of Season 2)

Re-watching and Re-living some of the great moments of the HBO series!

This post is Part 3 of 6.  To see Part 4 click here. Previous posts in this series: Part 1 (Jay) and Part 2 (Garrison)

****SPOILER ALERT**** we assume you’ve already watched the series

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(above: nice map, but not as nice as Stannis’s “table map” of Westeros at Dragonstone <below>)

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The Old and the New

The home stretch of season 1 didn’t just leave viewers like me reeling. The whole kingdom of Westeros was rocked by the events we discussed in the last post. A vacuum of power had occurred with the death of the king and the elimination of The Hand of the King, and many rushed to fill it. This second season follows the events of the second book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Clash of Kings.” How many kings are there now? (Cersei even asks this question at a meeting of the small council, saying “I’ve forgotten.”) There’s the nominal heir, Joffrey, but rumors about his parentage are spreading quickly, there’s Robb Stark, the “King in the North,” Renley Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon, brothers to the dead king Robert. There’s a rumored King beyond the wall (that for now seems to only concern Tyrion and the Men of the Night’s Watch). And don’t forget about Daenerys Targaryen, as yet across The Narrow Sea, but not without ambitions of her own to sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros.

Those characters we loved (or loved to hate) in season one have returned (those that survived the first season, anyway) and we met some new characters to love or hate (Stannis, Brienne, Melisandre, Margaery, Tarisa, and Davos to name just a few). So, following are some mostly random thoughts and observations about the first half of season 2:

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Cersei Lannister, as much as I love to hate her, had some great moments early in season 2. Why great? Because she puts a couple other characters – who I hate even more – in their place. Episode one treats us to oily Petyr Baelish smugly telling Cersei that “Knowledge is power.” How to deal with this upstart, she must have wondered. Her solution is to tell her guards to “Seize him,” and then to “cut his throat,” and only as they make ready to do so she, with an air of capriciousness stops them saying she’s changed her mind. She leans toward a still shaken Baelish and says, “POWER is power.” Point made.

Cersei also gets in a “Joffrey Slap” (& can we get this term entered into the lexicon?) in the throne room, which Joffrey is remodeling to a look more suitable to his arrogance and decadence.

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Making Caligula Blush

Speaking of Joffrey, early in the season we see his sadistic brutality, now unrestrained, and its impact on those around him. Unfortunately for Sansa Stark, she takes the brunt of the abuse. In episode one, he walks her out to the place on the walls where her father’s head is displayed on a spike, mentioning that Robb’s will soon join it. (And who says romance is dead?) Tyrion’s efforts to calm Joffrey’s beast with a couple distractions from the brothel don’t turn out as well as he’d hoped either. I’ll not recount the unsavory details of that episode.

Later, Joffrey figures that, since he can’t reach Robb Stark, he might as well punish Sansa in his place. Having one of his lackey knights beat her for his amusement, sneeringly noting, “Leave her face. I like her pretty.” Yep, I still love to hate him. Fortunately for young Sansa, Tyrion arrives and puts a stop to her abuse this time.

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(above: Joffrey sneers “I like her pretty.”)

Little Big Man

And speaking of Tyrion, in this part of the series he has risen to his zenith of power, serving as The King’s Hand as decided by his father Tywin. You can tell by that cool stickpin emblem again…

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Tyrion is also one of the few man characters in the series with the brains to effectively play “The Game of Thrones” (It comes back to all that reading he does) even if he’s not that imposing a figure physically. He Executes an inspired stratagem in episode 3, wherein he tells three suspected informants within the small council (Baelish, Pycelle, and Varys) of three different marriage plans for his niece, stressing that “The Queen must not be told,” which smokes out his quarry.

A Clockwork Orange?

Let’s see, who else. Oh, Theon Greyjoy. I almost start feeling sorry for him in season two, but he makes it easy enough to dismiss those thoughts. (And am I the only one that Theon (portrayed by actor Alfie Allen) reminds of Malcolm McDowell (below) mugging his way through Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange?)

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Theon’s homecoming to the Iron Islands showcases him at his pathetic best. Failing to impress everyone he meets, unknowingly feeling up his sister (maybe he has a Lannister in his family tree?) on the ride to the castle (where he is just further humiliated by his hard-nosed father Balon). Yep, I kinda felt sorry for him. Almost.

(below: even the commoners of the Iron Islands are not impressed with Theon)

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New characters? There’re almost too many to mention, but I will say I am a big fan of Brienne of Tarth. We first meet her at the camp of Renley Baratheon, one of the pretenders to the throne, where she is besting the formidable knight, Ser Loras Tyrell in mock combat. Her role thankfully expands as we finish season two and head into season three.

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Speaking of Renley, his expanded role includes his marriage (for appearances and offspring only) to Loras’s sister, Margaery Tyrell (and, although my research was unable to confirm this, I think margaery is also the word from the “High Valerian” language meaning “cleavage”)

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The Lady in Red

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The struggle between the Baratheon boys leads to the introduction of a new character I love to hate, Melisandre (a.k.a. the Red Woman). She uses her charisma and power as a kind prophetess of “The Lord of the Light” – an upstart among the religions of Westeros. Melisandre also possesses overt supernatural powers, and she is not afraid to use them, just ask Renley – or his survivors.

Speaking of supernatural powers, what’s up with Arya’s new “friend” Jacqen H’Ghar? The interplay between these two is great in season two. Saving Jacqen from being roasted alive may turn out to be the best decision she’s made thus far. “A girl” is smart. 🙂

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I’d better wind this up if I’m going to get this posted tonight, and even so I know there’s a lot I haven’t talked about. I spent no time at “The Wall” (or beyond) and no time in Essos with Daenerys and her dwindling Khalisar, which has just gained admittance to the beautiful oasis city of Qarth (below). Fortunately, she will see her screen time expand as the series progresses.

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I Can’t Believe I Read the Whole Thing

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Yesterday, I finally finished “A Clash of Kings,” the second book in the George R.R. Martin series, A Song of Fire and Ice. I liked it well enough, but I can’t see myself reading any more of these. The multiple-point of view writing (and I don’t mean jumping around between two or three characters, but many, MANY more) and the cast of thousands to keep track of is just too much heavy lifting for this (perhaps lazy) reader. Particularly annoying to me was Martin’s continually throwing in so much detail that in my mind doesn’t advance the story. I imagine that it’s because he has this whole imaginary world he’s created, compete with its history, and he wants to “get it in there” so his time in creating it hasn’t been wasted. This reached a peak for me in the “climactic” battle for King’s Landing, which includes a considerable naval engagement. Early in the chapter he names a few of the ships, and I’m thinking, “please, PLEASE don’t tell me he’s going to tell me the name every ship of the hundreds in this battle!” He tries to, but probably “only” calls a few dozen by name. Enough! He also goes overboard, to my taste at least, in describing what the different characters are wearing. Well into the second book, I’m more interested in what they are doing.

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If there is one character whose story I’d really like to know the rest of, however, it would be the young Arya Stark (pictured above as played by actress Maisie Williams). She kicks butt. In fact if the story were more about her (and maybe the direwolves!) I think I would be eager to read the rest.

Also, when I was about half way through reading this book, I did buy the first season of HBO’s adaptation of the series. I enjoyed it in spite of the gratuitously high levels of gore and sex, and I look forward to watching the second season when it becomes available on DVD or iTunes. I thought the performances of Peter Dinklage (pictured below as Tyrion Lannister) and Lena Headey (as the deliciously evil Cersei Lannister) very well done. You may also remember Headey from the short-lived tv series, “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

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So ends my sojourn in the land of Westeros (I think). If I am to learn the rest of the story, it will likely be through the subsequent seasons of the HBO series. What about you? Have you read these books? I know they have a passionate following. Can you convince me to read on? I’m willing to listen…

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July Reading: The Month Ahead

A new month is upon us again. Already. What’s on tap in my reading for July? Let’s start with the leftovers from June:

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
In fairness, it was late June when I “re-engaged” with this chunkster. I’m almost a third of the way through it as of last night, though. Like the first book in this series, I find some of the characters more compelling than others, which makes Martin’s penchant for skipping from one (of many, many) character to another with each new chapter’s beginning somewhat vexing. I’ll get through it, though. The jury’s still out on whether I will continue on to book three… (author Martin is pictured below)

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Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox by John Waugh
I’ve stalled again on this one, with only about 150 pages to go, I haven’t opened it in more than a week now. More discipline is required from this reader. (you can tell I never would’ve made the cut as a West Point Cadet!) Below: author John Waugh

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Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut

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A “required” read, this one is of course for my monthly meeting of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Book Club. I am so looking forward to reading this non-fiction work of Vonnegut’s musings. Only a couple more Vonnegut books to go for me and I’ll have read them all (I finished the last novel in May, and I think I just have this one and Armageddon in Retrospect left to go overall).

Probable reads:
Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie – a shorter, hopefully lighter read. A story with an interesting premise that I learned of via a fellow book blogger.

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Panther in the Sky by James Alexander Thom – this one’s appeared before at least once on my “the month ahead” posts. I think it’s finally time I gave Shawnee leader Tecumseh (portrait below) some attention…

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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – a local book discussion group is meeting on this one on July 10th. Though I’m familiar with the story through the movie and pop culture in general, never having read this classic is a serious gap in my cultural literacy that needs to be addressed. Not sure if I’ll be able to read it in time for that meeting though.

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Also I’ll be continuing to catch up on my 2012 short story reading project, which I’ve been enjoying doing the past few days already. 🙂

That’s about it for me. What about you? What’s on deck in your reading plans for July? I’d love to hear…

Back to Westeros

Friday, I finished my “required reading” for the month (the Vonnegut short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box – more on that later, hopefully) and looked around for what to read next. Yes I “still have going” my current non-fiction read, The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox, but I can fairly easily keep more than one book going at a time if one’s non-fiction and the other fiction. (How’s that for rationalization?) Actually, looking back on my prior “June Reading: The Month Ahead” post it seems an obvious choice to pick up George R.R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings,” but I remain daunted by its size, AND by the fact that it’s book two of God knows how many in the series.

So, I nonetheless jumped in Friday night and Saturday morning and got about sixty-five pages in (and am about to pick it up again as soon as I finish this post). I anxious to find out the fates of Eddard Stark’s children (and their direwolves). And I confess I did have to look up the Wikipedia entry on the first book of the series, A Game of Thrones since it’s been just over a year since I read it and have forgotten much of the plot and characters (there’s that “great memory” again).

I know that this series is wildly popular, but I’m curious as to what other readers and citizens of Bibliophilopolis think of them. I’m “committed” now to read this second one, but should I go on and read them all? Or should I “cut” my losses and stop after this one? As a matter of policy, I don’t “DNF” books I’ve started, but I don’t think that rule should apply to series. Right? 🙂

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