Sunday, August 11, 2013

GoT Review: 1x08

Season 1, Episode 08: “The Pointy End”
I: Doris, I definitely agree with your assessment of the Dothraki, and this episode only supports your arguments. Dany’s been assimilating pretty well, but this week she takes on the role of the “bewildered other” and takes a pretty awesome feminist stance on behalf of the women. I’m well aware that the Dothraki’s rape-and-pillage routine was common play in the Middle Ages, but it could be better developed. The only Dothraki character of note is Khal Drogo, who continues his whole “shout impressively and rip out tongues” routine this week. I just started reading the first book, where each chapter is narrated by a different character. I’ll be interested to see if Drogo gets a chapter, but I’m not holding my breath.

After a long absence, Robb and the youngest Starks popped up again this week. Seeing Robb and his mother reunite made me realize how much Tully there is in him. Both are fiercely loyal to their families and make rash decisions to avenge any hurts to their kin. Catelyn’s support of Rob’s battle made me realize what a bad idea this is. Robb also has a lot of his father in him, as he tries to live up to his code of honor. Letting the spy go may have been the right thing to do, but it’s as politically foolish as most of Ned’s decisions. I’m still mulling over what Varys said to Ned: “It was your mercy that killed the king.” I have no idea if Varys can be trusted (what else is new?) but there is some truth to these words. Ned is too good of a man to save anyone in King’s Landing, especially himself.
In other Stark news, Sansa is showing a surprising amount of family loyalty, and Arya has completed her first kill. The episode doesn’t return to her after she runs off, so I’m hoping that she’s okay. Maybe she’ll make it across the sea and team up with Dany so they can have their own show together. It can air after my imaginary Mad Men spinoff, The Joan and Peggy Show. 

D: There’s something about Westeros that makes kids grow up very, very quickly- well, everyone other than that creepy Robin kid who’s still suckling. At least Joffrey gets to be king; the Stark children are scattered across the country without their parents, and each one appears to be in his or her own sticky situation. Leaving out Jon and the Inferi wights for now: Robb is about to lead his bannermen into war, Sansa is being held captive by the ruling Lannisters, Arya is on the run, and who the heck is even taking care of Bran and Rickon?? That naked guy? [Quick tangent: contemplating the Stark family tree is making me think twice about Jon’s origins. Irene and I have both talked at length about how irritating good and noble Ned is- would a man so morally upright really cheat on his wife, even in the midst of war? Seems questionable.]

As much as I love Arya, I think it will be most interesting to see how the oldest son and daughter of the family develop in these troubled times. With Ned locked away, Robb is the “man of the house,” in terms of the physical home, the symbolic family unit, and the larger ancestral clan. Meanwhile, with Catelyn pretty much ineffectual for whatever reason, Sansa carries the burden of protecting the family. (And yes, that does create an interesting dichotomy of house vs. family along gendered lines, which I will have to explore another time.) Neither one is a character whom we’ve seen much of yet, but in light of Ned’s precarious state, they- and Robb especially- will have to step up and become the leaders they’ve been raised to be. This is not just true for the characters, but the actors as well. Just as Robb is disparaged as being too “green” to lead his troops, Richard Madden may have a hard time filling Sean Bean’s metaphorically huge leading-man shoes when Ned inevitably dies.
Father & son: a shared affinity for facial hair, furs, and foolishness
Yes, he’s got the scruff (which, fun fact, recent scientific research suggests is most attractive, to which we all say a resounding "duh"), but will he have the same screen presence that the great Boromir commands? Will we still sympathize with the Starks, even when the Lannisters seem more compelling? We’ll have to wait and see!

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