Season 1, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”
I: Let’s start with the most exciting development: DRAGONS! At first, I was ready to write off the fiery lil’ babies as a tired fantasy trope: introduce plot-advancing salvation out of nowhere and chalk it up to “magic.” (Why, hello there, sword of Gryffindor!) Upon more reflection, it’s pretty clear the series was building up to this moment. For one thing, Dany’s dead son was described as scaly and winged. There have been frequent references to the “last dragon,” and Daenerys has been experimenting with her eggs and fire for awhile (at least in the book). I thought she was being metaphorical when she said “Fire cannot kill a dragon” after Superblonde’s crowning. As the AV Club pointed out, this statement has turned out to be pretty literal. I’ll be excited to see how Daenerys’s more merciful side meshes with her ambition. If you try to take over a kingdom, destruction and physical/sexual violence are pretty much inevitable.
Dragon battles are an awesomely terrifying possibility, but King Joffrey has much more than that to worry about. There’s also the threat of the two Baratheon brothers and “the king in the north.” Michelle Fairley did a great job portraying Catelyn’s internal conflict between her maternal concern for Robb and her desire for vengeance. It looks like we’ve been set up for a good war next season, and that’s not even considering the threats north of the wall. I’m hoping Arya makes it up there to be reunited with Jon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them is killed off. One of the best things about this show is that no one is truly safe, which makes it suspenseful from week to week.
Finally, a quibble: What was the point of the scene with the old advisor and the prostitute?! It didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know (the advisors are good at protecting their own interests, GoT likes naked girls, etc., etc.) I would have loved to see more of Jon’s moral dilemmas, or Daenerys’s reaction to her personal reenactment of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The first book was full of great material, and there’s no reason to skimp on storylines if it can be avoided. Still, this was a pretty great season of TV, and I’m sure most of it was just set-up for even more exciting things to come.
D: Excuse me, sexual violence is NOT inevitable! Daenerys saw to that herself- although, as the witch pointed out, she didn’t exactly “save” the women in time. This was such a heartbreaking episode, with really powerful performances from all the affected actors/characters. I don’t know what moved me most: Sansa’s visibly wrecked face (Joffrey: “You look nice today”), Catelyn’s emotionless walk through the camp, Robb’s hysterical tree thrashing, or Daenerys’s quiet realization that she’s lost everything almost overnight. But hey, now she gets to be the girl on fire! The girl with the dragon t...trio! And she’ll have to learn how to train her dragon(s)! Okay, I’m done now.
As I predicted earlier, Sansa and Robb are going through quite a journey. I think we’ll enjoy getting to know the new, smarter Sansa. I mean, her retort about Joffrey’s head on a pike was pretty amazing, even if she got slapped for it. (It would've been too easy if she could've just pushed him to his death, huh?) Likewise, when Greatjon started advocating for self-governance, Robb looked pretty shocked and overwhelmed, like he wasn’t sure what he’d just gotten himself into: “Uh… did I just become a king?” On the other hand, things aren’t going so smoothly for the Lannisters for once. Yeah, Starks! During the brief exchange between father and son, Tyrion looked so pleasantly surprised that Tywin acknowledged his intelligence and called him his “son.” He’s always so glib and cynical but it's evident he just wants his old man’s approval.
Next season, I’m most looking forward to: Orphan ‘Arry (Little Orphan Annie + Harry Potter); more ridiculously intricate braided hairstyles; dragon fun; and more of Cersei and Jaime. We don’t know much about “The Kingslayer” but he seems like an interesting dude. By not admitting why he pushed Bran out of the tower, he shows that he knows his incestuous relationship with his sister is wrong, in contrast with Cersei who so proudly confessed their love to Ned. Clearly, he’s more grounded than her, but who is he, really? Least excited: all the prostitute "plotlines" and the wights, wildings, White Walkers, and everything at the Wall that takes us away from the war. Even Sam’s Neville Longbottom-like antics (“You can’t go out! I’ll- I’ll fight you!”) can’t save this gloomy storyline.