Sunday, June 30, 2013

GoT Review: 1x02

Season 1, Episode 02: “The Kingsroad”

I: Doris, I think this episode answered a few of your questions. First of all, we’re starting to figure out just how Peter Dinklage earned that Emmy: Slapping Joffrey in the face three times in a row. That foreshadows an even greater humiliation when Joffrey is at Arya’s mercy. For all of his bluster, Joffrey is pretty cowardly and weak. By the end, everyone knows that he’s getting beat up by people he should easily best. An unkind character being publicly humiliated during adolescence...who does this remind me of? Oh right, every comic book villain EVER. We also learned that Bran Muffin is alive but not exactly well. He’s survived two attempted murders, but I don’t know if his luck will hold out if (and I’m guessing when) the Lannisters try to kill him again. Between the hit man and that poor butcher boy, I’m really concerned about Arya’s safety. Will there be any mini-Starks left by the end of the season?

On the plus side, we’re seeing the women of this show assert some more power. There’s Catelyn doing her detective work and holding her own against that hitman. And let’s not forget Cersei Lannister, who terrifies the crap out of me. I’m a little less worried about Daenerys than I was last week. I don’t know why she was getting sex lessons, but I’m hoping she’s going to try to gain some power over Khal Drogo. One thing that sometimes annoys me about prestige dramas like this and Mad Men is their tendency to practically write their themes out in bold print. In this episode, we saw that with the juxtaposition of Daenerys and the former prostitute turned lady’s maid. Both are brought into sexual relationships at young ages, and they are expected to please men at all costs. It was already clear that SuperBlonde is basically the pimp of House Targaryen, and that Daenerys is sold for sex. Let’s hope that Sansa doesn’t end up in the same trap.

This episode still had some great moments. It was nice to be reminded that the Starks (including Jon!) actually love each other. Whoever plays Catelyn Stark just killed it when Jon came to say goodbye to Bran. It must be horrible to be reminded of your husband’s infidelity as you watch your own son fight for his life. Ned seems to actually care for Jon, reminding him “you are a Stark.” He may not be treated like one, but it’s nice to see that there are some genuine bonds there. I’m also loving the Tyrion-Ned bromance, so I’m sure that means something horrible will happen to at least one of them. Doris, who do you think is next on the Lannisters’ hit list?

D: For me, the strongest asset of Game of Thrones thus far has been its compelling characters as performed by a talented cast. The main drawback, however, is that there are so many characters and plotlines that I can never remember what's happening to whom or why this person is doing this or that to the other. In regards to my prior questions, these are the answers: Dany gets kinky sex lessons from her handmaid; Bran wakes up; Eddard has found naught (although his wife Catelyn is starting to get clued in on the Lannisters); no word on Sansa's cycles; and Tyrion gets to slap Joffrey and be snarky about Jon Snow's illegitimate birth!

Well, Irene, things are still not looking good for the Stark children. Bran is probably still on the Lannisters' hit list, and now that we've become aware of what a huge jerk Joffrey is, I'll add Arya and a wandering Nymeria to it as well. (I wouldn't be surprised if he still held a grudge in the next episode.) I'm also concerned about Sansa, but not so much for her safety as for her sanity: how can she like that guy?! I can't imagine her adoration will last very long, given his cruelty and arrogance. I can't believe she still wants to marry him, either, given that he threatened her sister's life! Sansa, you need to sort out your priorities. Turning to another woman of the Stark family: I understand that Catelyn Stark has a hard time dealing with Jon because he is the physical embodiment of her husband's infidelity and all that, but she should really ease up on him a bit. For one, his birth is obviously not his fault, and for another, he is clearly a loving brother to her biological children. (That bit in the beginning was a highlight for me, too.) I mean, he gave Arya a cute little sword of her own! Nothing says familial love like telling your baby sister to stick people with "the pointy end" of her new sword.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

GoT Review: 1x01

Season 1, Episode 01: "Winter is Coming"  

I: Hi all! It’s Irene, aka Otter, and I’m excited to be watching a drama at the same time as one of my friends. (It’s been torture not being able to talk about what’s happening on Mad Men this season.) As an English major I’ve spent the last three years learning to structure logical arguments, so naturally I’ll begin my part of this review by talking about the episode’s ending. I knew the show was violent and sexual and everything, but that ending hit me even before I checked Wikipedia to make sure that that I was watching incest. (Anyone have a non-spoilery character map?) We had been told quite a few times that the Lannisters could pretty much do whatever they wanted, but that murder really solidified that point. Nothing shows the abuse of power quite like a man shoving a child out of a window after breaking one of society’s biggest social taboos.

Power, not emotion, seems to be driving almost all of the show’s relationships. We’ve got a thirteen-year old begging to be married off to the powerful Joffrey. Then there’s SuperBlonde who’s so desperate to regain his kingdom that tells his betrothed sister “I would let his whole tribe f*** you. All forty thousand men and his horses too, if that’s what it took.” He sticks to this goal even after he is visibly shaken by the savageness of the wedding. The cinematography highlights the couple’s mismatch, as a physically imposing man is juxtaposed with his much smaller bride, delicately dressed in pale colors. After the wedding we see some presumably non-consensual sex. Khal Drogo (the groom) can say no (and does repeatedly), but Daenerys is rendered voiceless in this transaction. There are some parallels to this scene in the whorehouse, where women are openly reduced to a commodity. There we meet Tyrion, a character who is all too aware that “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.” The bastard trope lends an interesting dimension to these power dynamics. There’s more than just those with power and those without. Jon Snow and Tyrion have a sort of influence, but this can easily be eliminated. I’m excited to see how they develop: will they be squashed by their more influential relatives or will they sneakily absorb some power?

Since I guess this is a review, I should probably talk a bit about how much I actually liked this episode. Making a good pilot is a tricky business, since you have to introduce all of the characters without sounding like the beginning of a Baby-Sitter’s Club book. (There were over a hundred of those; did they have to write each girl’s bio every single time?!) This episode works around this by structuring much of its action around the Lannisters’ visit: that way the audience meets these characters as the same time as everyone else. This episode was a little slow at times, but I think (and know, thanks to friends/the internet) that things are really going to pick up. I’m definitely excited to see where these characters are going and how the kingdoms will be developing. Doris, did you like the episode? And what’s your take on that ending? 

D: Doris here. I'll admit, as a fan of light-hearted comedies and angst-driven coming-of-age stories, I didn't really want to watch Game of Thrones, much less like it. As the wonderful Troy Barnes once said, “If I wanted to know what happened in Europe a long time ago, I'd watch Game of Thrones.” (Thanks, Community.) Despite these lingering hesitations, and the extremely boring first 7-10 minutes of the pilot, I was definitely sucked in by the end of the episode. I won't say I'm a fan of the show quite yet, but I am intrigued to see future developments: how will Daenerys deal with her marriage to the intimidating, eyeliner-wearing Khal Drogo? Does Bran survive his fall from the tower window? What dirt will Boromir Eddard dig up on the Lannisters? (Then again, one does not simply dig up dirt on the Lannisters.) Will Sansa get her first period by the time she is betrothed and/or married? And most importantly, what trials and tribulations will Tyrion suffer that gave Peter Dinklage his Best Supporting Actor win at the Emmys?

Irene, you make an excellent point about power struggles. And about The Baby-Sitters Club (I always skimmed those intros- and seriously, they're 13 year-olds with a thriving local business? Come on. No way.) I couldn't agree more. I can't wait until that scumbag SuperBlonde meets his demise- I'm assuming that that happens, because no one that foul can possibly survive for long. As for the depressing end of the episode, I have to say this: after all those orgies, corpses, rapes, gratuitous boobs, and needless bloodshed, I'm surprised that you're surprised that the queen's lover/brother pushed a ten year-old out the window because of his voyeurism! Not that Peeping Toms deserve to be murdered- I'm just saying, what's an incestuous lover to do.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adventures of 'Game of Thrones' Virgins

Hi, people! This is Doris and Irene’s “Blog of Thrones” feature and yes, we realize we’re probably the 477,924th blog with that name. 

We’re two TV nerds with a penchant for smart comedies starring SNL alumni and an awesomely soapy British period drama involving upstairs and downstairs people, but one highly hyped show that has somehow flown under our radar is HBO’s Game of Thrones. Everyone and their grandma has been telling us to watch it because apparently it is that epic, so now we finally are. Plus Irene studied abroad at Trinity College, where the guy who plays King Joffrey is a student. She never saw him, but she wants to find out why people seemed to hate him so much. 

We plan to watch one episode a week and review it on this blog until we’ve finished all three seasons! (That’s 30 episodes, if you weren’t aware.) While it’s a given that we will be discussing plot points in our posts, please refrain from spoiling future episodes for *us*. We’ve heard that “everyone dies” in the show but otherwise, we know nothing. (Like Jon Snow...? Thanks, Tumblr.) 

Join us as we embark on our journey of thrones -- okay I’ll stop that now.

--Doris (posting as Saurus) & Irene