Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon Part 6 (Second half of Season 3)

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(Billy Idol: It’s a nice day for a … White Red Wedding!)

General Observations

It’s funny – it hasn’t really been that long since I watched season three the first time, but as I looked forward to this re-watch, I was thinking it was all about “The Red Wedding” in the infamously blood-spattered ninth episode. But season three is so much more than that. So many more subtleties that I overlooked the first time, whether it’s Roose Bolton asking a hand-less Jaime “are you sure you’ve not overplayed your … position?” Or the stunned look The Hound gives Arya after she knocks out the man whose wagon they help fix on the road to The Twins. Clegane finally “gets it” – this girl’s a badass.

This season is full of instances of odd pairings, or “strange bedfellows,” if you will. Aside from the great story arc of the evolving relationship between Jaime and Brienne, there are also the couples Jon and Ygritte (a Crow and a Wildling woman? That’ll never last!).

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There’s also the uneasy partnership of Osha and Meera Reed (natural rivals, yet united by their loyalty to Bran), the bumbling yet good-hearted Sam Tarly and Craster’s widow/daughter, Gilly. We’ve also got the two weddings Tywin arranges -two more odd pairings, Sansa and Tyrion, and Cersei and Ser Loras. Ser Barristan Selby having showed up in Essos to serve “the true heir” pairs him with Ser Jorah – they are united by their service to Daenerys, but both have left their homeland and NOT on their own terms. And of course sharing a storyline – and a horse! – are my favorite mismatched couple: Arya and The Hound.

One other thing. I rarely get caught up in a television series like I have with this one. The only other recent instance would be last year’s final season of AMC’s brilliant series, “Breaking Bad.” But that was different. I had read no book. I didn’t know what was going to happen. None of us knew what was going to happen, but oh were we happy to be along for that ride. It’s a testament to those who have produced the Game of Thrones series that a viewer might become swept away in spite of already “knowing” the story. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who hasn’t read the books but has enjoyed the tv series. That must be a different experience, eh?

Another somewhat amusing twist in this season is how fast these child actors are growing up. Bran hardly looks the same, and Sansa and Arya have also grown up a bit.  Better accelerate that filming schedule, HBO! Oh well, I’m running out of time before the season four premier, so this post I’ll just take it an episode at a time, mentioning my favorite moments and observations on each.

Episode 6 “The Climb”

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Lots of action in the north for this episode. I confess that the segments beyond the wall are not usually among my favorites, but the scene toward the end of the episode as the Wildlings – and Jon Snow – scale the ice is truly intense. Of course, this may just be due to my fear of heights, I don’t know. 🙂 But at least the view at the end is worth it for Jon & Ygritte.

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(above: “Jonny and Ygritte, standing on the wall…”)

Also in this episode, Arya meets The Red Woman (Mellisandre) for the first time. Her assessment? “I don’t like that woman.” Good enough for me. Mellisandre warns Arya that “I’ll see you again…” Be careful what you wish for, there, Red.

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(Melissandre tries to intimidate Arya. Good luck with that.)

Best comic relief of the episode, not surprisingly, goes to Tyrion as he and Cersei are musing about their upcoming and unwanted nuptials, and which of the four of them has the worst of it. Tyrion admits he supposes it’s Sansa, but observes that “Loras will certainly come to know a deep and singular misery.” Bwahaha! And speaking of Loras, I guess he’d be a runner up in the comedy category for his awkward and thankfully short-lived “courting” of Sansa.

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And what was with the whole (weird) Petyr Baelish “Ladder Soliloquy” scene at the end of this episode? Sorry, Petyr, whatever it is you’re selling, I’m not buying it. You have what – as I learned in Psych 101 – are called “delusions of grandeur.” To me, you’re a piker, and you’ll always be a piker. (I kept waiting for the Wayne’s World overly dramatic “Oscar Clip” marker to start flashing on the screen.)

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Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

There’s a great early scene here with Tywin and Joffrey as the Lannister Patriarch begins to “manage” the young tyrant.

Joffrey whines: “But I haven’t been counseled by anyone about this!”
Tywin: “You are being counseled at this very moment.”
Heh heh. Joffrey’s still afraid of his granddad it seems.

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(above: Harrenhal – the cursed)

Also in this episode, Arya escapes the brotherhood but runs straight into the clutches of The Hound. A blessing for the viewers, if not for her. The best scenes in this episode, though, involve Jaime’s decision to return to save Brienne from Locke. Riding to King’s Landing, Jaime realizes that in a way it is his fault that Locke refused – and felt insulted by – Brienne’s father’s offered ransom. He turns around and rides back to Harrenhal to save her, finding her in a pit, forced to fight a gigantic bear with a wooden sword. It seems Jaime’s developed a consience – that almost makes me forget the thing he did for love at the start of “this damn series.”

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And Locke. What an evil character he is. Such a mercenary. I can see no redeeming qualities in him. It’s a wonder he’s not working for King Joffrey.

(below: Locke. Don’t you love to hate him too?)

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Episode 8 “Second Sons”

Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding is “the social event of the season” (a title it will only hold until the next episode is watched, though). Joffrey does his worst to ruin everything, removing Tyrion’s stepstool so that he cannot “cloak” Sansa, and snickering at Tyrion’s embarrassment. Oh, ever the romantic, Joffrey also threatens to rape the bride if Tyrion passes out from drunkenness. Charming.

Robb determines he needs the Freys to win the war so he decides to apologize to them. Meanwhile Arya learns from the Hound that he is taking her to the Twins also in hopes Catelyn and Robb will pay a ransom.

We spend some quality time with Daenerys in this episode too, as she plots to take another of the seemingly countless cities in Essos. This one is protected by a trio of mercenaries, however, who she invites to a parlay. Two are rude to her, but one is apparently smitten, and it seems we’ll be saddled with Daario Naharis (or “Fabio Face” as I think of him) for many episodes to come…

Good hearted Sam Tarly has his best moment in this episode too, as he is leading young Gilly and her baby back south of the wall and to safety, only to find a white walker in the way.  Thankfully, he has a dragon glass (obsidian?) dagger on hand to disintegrate the walker to smithereens!

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Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere”

The history of television is rich with many on-screen weddings. The one in this episode would instantly make any top ten lists in that category. It’s certainly the bloodiest since that night in May 1985, when virtually the ENTIRE CAST of the nighttime soap hit “Dynasty” were attacked and seemingly gunned down by terrorists at Amanda’s Moldavian(?) (made up country) wedding. Or am I the only one old enough to remember that?

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But before we get to the blessed event. A few other things are happening in this episode…

On the road to the Twins, The Hound decides to appropriate the wagon of a pig farmer so that they more easily will gain admittance to the wedding feast. The Hounds knocks the farmer out and draws his blade to kill him but Sansa pleads with -and stops – him. She even goes so far as to tell him “I know a killer. A real killer. You’d be like a kitten to him.” Um, and this is The Hound she’s talking to. I think it’s in this same episode where she tells him, “Someday, I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.” God I love that “little girl.”

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(above: The Hound – did that little girl really just knock that guy out cold?)

As for the wedding, well the Freys (mostly Walder, who looks just like the guy with the cat (Filch) at Hogwarts in Harry Potter – oh, it IS the same guy! Actor David Bradley. What range!) have ostensibly accepted Robb’s apology for marrying someone besides one of the Frey girls as he’d promised. I can certainly understand why Walder was so upset, seeing how he doesn’t even know all the girls’ names. Things seem to be going well at the ceremony. Robb’s uncle Edmure is pleasantly surprised that he seems to have found the one attractive Frey girl for his wife. Drinking and merrymaking abound, until the bride and groom leave and the doors are closed. The “live music” being played in the hall changes to a more somber pace (how many more clues do you need, Starks?!), and a bloodbath ensues as Frey exacts his revenge (in return for future Lannister favors we find out later.) With crossbow men in the balcony, the Stark party is massacred. The same is happening outside.

The Hound and Arya arrive just in time for Arya to witness Robb’s direwolf being butchered by Frey men. This must’ve been a shocker of an episode for those viewers who hadn’t read the books. Speaking of the books, Talisa didn’t attend the wedding in A Storm of Swords. You might say that she chose… wisely… in the book.

Episode 10 “Mhysa”

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It kind of felt like the prior episode should have been the season finale, but – just as at Walder Frey’s great hall – there’s some cleanup to do.

Jon Snow, escaped from the wildlings, is tracked down by Ygritte, and she shoots some arrows into him. He didn’t think she would. Neither did I.

One great scene is when Arya and The Hound (still saddle buddies) come upon four of the Frey men gloating about the massacre. Arya slips off the saddle, circling around behind one of them and kills him with a knife. The others arise but they are no match for The Hound. After the men have been dispatched, The Hound humorously tells Arya, “If you’re going to do something like that again, tell me first.”

At the city of Yunkai, which Daenerys has brought under her control thanks to her army of “unsullied” and her now three lieutenants, the Mother of Dragons frees its slaves as well. The episode ends with the crowd chanting Mhysa (“mother”) as she walks into the throng of them. (For a moment I thought we would see some crowd-surfing, Essos style, but some of them lift her up in more of a winning Super Bowl coach style.) The episode – and season – ends to the chants of “Mhysa! Mhysa!” while Daeny’s three dragons circle overhead, signaling the start of our anxious wait for season four, which is now almost upon us!!

Well, thanks for joining us for this trip down memory lane for the first three seasons.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as Garrison and I have enjoyed throwing these posts together.  Going forward, “we now return you to Bibliophilopolis’s regular programming”… 🙂

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A Game of Thrones Re-watch Marathon, Part 2 (2nd Half of Season 1)

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This post is Part 2 of 6.  For Part 3 click here.

For Part 2, we have a guest blogger

All hail His Grace, Garrison of House [Stark], First of His Name, King of the Bloggers and the First Men, Lord of Bibliophilopolis, and Protector of the Realm:

Well, maybe Jay is the true Lord of Bibliophilopolis. And maybe our familial relationship is better than that of some in Westeros, but he would still be wise to heed to advice of Queen Cersei in A Game of Thrones, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” before he so readily invites others to sit on the Iron Throne of Bibliophilopolis… In all seriousness though, as a long time reader of Bibliophilopolis (and a longer time nephew of the author), I was thrilled to be asked to help recap HBO’s Game of Thrones in advance of the fourth season, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to be the first guest poster in the history of this blog; I hope I do the author and its readers justice.

In my recap posts, I will try to do a few categories that will cover some noteworthy moments that will remind people of the general awesomeness of the episodes. If you seek a slightly more detailed blow by blow, that will follow. Before I begin, I’d like to direct you to a great website that I often use to refresh myself of what has happened in Westeros: Tower of the Hand. This website allows the reader to set the scope of what they have read or seen in the series. Say you have only read the first two books when you look up an article on Tyrion Lannister and set your scope to Clash of Kings. The article will only show you information up to the point which you have read. This will prevent being accidentally spoiled if you are trying to avoid that! It works the same way for seasons of the television series.

Without further ado…

Best Scenes

1. Ned gets the “King’s Justice.” This was when I got truly hooked on the show. The whole season was awesome. But when Ned lost his head… good, honorable, played-by-a-famous-actor, clearly-the-hero-of-our-story Ned, that’s when I knew that no one was safe and that this show would stay compelling throughout. Right until the end I expected Eddard Stark to escape somehow. Even after “Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!” I remained convinced that *something* would happen for Ned to avoid that fate… right up until the end.

(below: Joffrey changes his mind, much to the chagrin of Cersei and Sansa)

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2. Ned/Cersei. Great scene between two great actors. The scene that prompts Varys telling Stark later “your mercy killed the king.” Also includes a line to appear later…

3. Ned/Cersei II. I was profoundly sad during the throne room showdown scene on my re-watch. It was all going so well… until it wasn’t.

3. Viserys gets crowned. We were all waiting for this moment. You can admit it, it’s okay.

4. Aemon and Jon. There is more to this maester than meets the eye. Maybe not a hugely important scene (or maybe it was), but I’m a sucker for back story and this delivers.

Best Lines

Lysa Aryn: “You don’t fight with honor!”
Bronn: “No…but he did.”
After Bronn dispatches the “honorable” knight in Tyrion’s trial by combat.

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Joffrey: I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies, and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he’ll give me yours.
One of the rare moments where Sansa isn’t being totally insufferable! Bravo, Sansa!

Cersei: When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

Robb Stark: Tell Lord Tywin, winter is coming for him. Twenty thousand northerners marching south to find out if he really does sh*t gold.
To a captured Lannister scout.

Syrio Forel: There is only one god and his name is Death, and there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today”.
Early frontrunner for the best line in the series.

Tyrion confesses his crimes (a mildly NSFW monologue laden with innuendo)

Tyrion: Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder. And if the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember this: whatever their price, I’ll beat it. I like living.
To Bronn the sellsword after the escape from The Eyrie. The way Peter Dinklage delivers “I like living” is tremendous.

Discussing their first kills…
King Robert: Your outlaw, any last words?
Jaime: I cut his head off, so, no…

Eddard Stark: What you suggest is treason.
Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish: Only if we lose.

Tywin Lanniser: A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of a sheep.

Robb Stark: If we do it your way, Kingslayer, you’d win. We’re not doing it your way.
Responding to Jaime’s offer to end the war by each championing their cause in single combat.

Mirri Maz Duur: You will not hear me screaming.
Daenerys Targaryen: I will. But it is not your screams I want. Only your life.
Before Daenerys puts the healer on the funeral pyre.

Robb Stark: I’ll kill them all.
Catelyn Stark: My boy… they have your sisters. We have to get the girls back… And *then* we will kill them all.
After Robb and Catelyn find out Ned has been killed.

Best foreshadowing you absolutely didn’t notice the first time
In the scene where we meet Tywin Lannister and he has the discussion with Jaime about the honor of their house and how they have the opportunity to become a dynasty in Westeros, what is he doing? He is skinning and gutting a stag. The stag is the sigil of House Baratheon. Terrific.

(below: anyone up for a fresh venison dinner at the Lannisters?)

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Assorted Musings
– The Targaryens have the best claim to the throne. Their family was in power for hundreds of years before Robert and Ned led the rebellion that overthrew them.
– I can’t shake the similarities between Samwell and Samwise from Lord of the Rings.
– During the aforementioned ‘stag skinning’ scene, Tywin delivers a monologue about how their legacy is really the only thing they will leave behind. This is his main motivation. Cersei’s motivation is her love for her children as well as dealing with being in a loveless marriage that was forced upon her. Jaime has his own backstory which will be discussed in season two. The only unredeemingly evil character is Joffrey. Everyone else has reasons (maybe not excuses) why they are they way that they are. Joffrey is just evil for the sake of being evil.
– By the end of the season both Mormonts put their faith in someone untested. Jeor Mormont, the lord commander of the Night’s Watch, makes Jon his steward and begins grooming him for a leadership position. Jorah Mormont, Jeor’s son who is with Daenerys, has a change of heart and saves Dany from assassination. He becomes convinced that she has the best claim to the throne and would do anything for her. It is interesting that these two characters are connected in this way… even more so when you consider the name of the Series is a “A Song of Ice (Jon: at the Wall, where it is almost perpetually winter) and Fire (Daenerys: the Mother of Dragons).”
– I found/find it really peculiar that Ned would actually father a bastard. Ned is the most honorable character in this entire show, to a fault. He diligently served his king, even though it was not something he wanted to do; he was a good father (notably to Theon and Jon Snow who were not his sons with Catelyn); he was a benevolent, just ruler of the North according to everyone that talks about him; he had the chance to seize the Iron Throne for himself during Robert’s rebellion and didn’t; he is devoted to his wife. It just seemed out of character for him to forsake his marriage. That being said, it is in perfect character for him that he would take the child as his own if that were to happen and raise him in his house.

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A full recap follows after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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