Sunday, July 21, 2013

GoT Review: 1x05

Season 1, Episode 05: “The Wolf and the Lion”

I: Well, we’re at Season 1’s halfway point, and it looks like we’ve been set up for a pretty eventful back half. Last semester, all that some of my friends could talk about was how excited they were to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode. I’m starting to understand why. If that ending wasn’t a cliffhanger, I don’t know what was. There’s a pretty grim outlook for anyone whose name contains “Stark” or “Tyrion.” I did say that I was proud of Catelyn last week, but now all I want to do is go into the GoT universe and talk some sense into her. As brave as her actions were, she’s being pretty foolhardy. We know the Lannisters are savvy, and as Tyrion points out, savvy people do not use their own weapons to attempt murder. Plus, her actions led to something I can never unsee: a kid about six or seven breastfeeding. Thanks a lot, Catelyn. On the plus side, this led to one of my favorite little acting moments of the episode: Catelyn and Tyrion giving each other the “she’s crazy” side-eye as they watch Catelyn’s sister. Also, we got to see Tyrion’s “first.” Now that he’s been exposed to battle, I’m excited to see what he’ll be up to next. I think he’s definitely earning that Emmy - do you agree, Doris?
Although Ned is proving to be noble, he’s definitely lacking in political savvy. I spent the whole episode wanting to remind him “Loud voice, open window.” (This is what my brother and I say to remind my mother that yes, the man with the bad combover can hear what she’s saying if the car windows are down.) We’ve learned that everybody is spying on Ned, and most of these spies aren’t looking out for his best interests. I was particularly worried during the scene where Arya tells him about the threat on his life. As great as it was to see her being heroic, I just wanted Ned to go and shut the window already. Arya’s resourcefulness and bravery have given her the status of the greatest character on the show. She looks even more impressive when compared to Sansa, who continues to have the world’s worst taste in men. In fairness to Sansa, 13 year-old Irene’s judgement wasn’t much better.

Although I enjoyed this episode a lot, the show has a few too many characters. I appreciate that the writers aren’t dumbing things down, but the myriads of plotlines are becoming problematic. When that guy got stabbed in the eye in the end, I had no idea who he was. I’m pretty sure he meant something to Ned, but I can’t tell you how important he was, or how strong their relationship was. I’m planning to read the books too, so hopefully I’ll get a better sense of what’s going on. Doris, did this episode convert you, or am I alone in my renewed GoT love?

D: Haha, Irene, that’s what I’ve been saying all along! According to the Game of Thrones Wiki that I’m constantly checking, that guy was Jory Cassel, captain of the guards of House Stark, whom Arya asked to protect her father. So yeah, he was pretty important to Ned. I think this has been the best episode yet, much in thanks to the increased action and conflict. While I did miss Daenerys and Jon Snow, the omission of their storylines made the episode far more focused than its usual hodgepodge of disconnected plots (sorry, that was harsh, I know). One enduring complaint that I have to bring up is that I feel rather uneasy about all the gratuitous boobs and bloodshed, the former especially. Like, why was that one prostitute at Littlefinger’s brothel staring at Jory and essentially rubbing her breasts at him? Was that really necessary, producers? I don’t think it’s the prude in me so much as the feminist that makes this criticism, as the overt sexualization of women feels tasteless and pointless. In most cases, it’s not even “necessary” nudity, which I suppose you could make an argument for in regards to Daenerys’s plotline. It’s hard to see the faint flickers of female empowerment through all this sexual objectification.

Anyway, back to Ned. This very Ned-heavy episode has really cemented his status as the traditional “hero” figure of the show. His refusal to assassinate Daenerys and her unborn child highlights his moral code and sense of honor in contrast to the shadier members of the council. Considering how politics seems to work in Westeros (heavy on the treachery and deceit, that is), I get the feeling that the Lannisters and other would-be enemies will find him easy to take advantage of, because of these very qualities. Speaking of which, one thing that surprised me was Jaime Lannister’s apparent concern about his captured brother, Tyrion. Well, maybe “concern” is too strong a word, but he did display some sort of possessive interest in getting his brother back from the Starks, much as a little kid would screech at a peer to give back some stolen toy. I didn’t get the impression that Jaime and Tyrion cared much for each other, but this ambush incident just demonstrates how seriously everyone takes putting “family first.” Hey, would you look at that: family values on Game of Thrones! What an unexpected note to end on.

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