Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:27 PM
What I liked:
All Men Must Die: This episode brought that finality after the climax; after a long life has been lead- maybe into a legend, maybe a life of service, maybe a Handship- we still all end up dead. Usually not by our own choosing. I thought that this episode identified to the bitter end that some ends are more bitter than others.
Jon Snow, 2.0: The battle with Half-hand in the books is basically a passive-voice battle wherein events sort of happen TO Jon and Jon never acts to DO anything; even the final swipe that kills Half-hand, in the books its almost described as if Jon Snow took no part in it .("But in that instant, as he twisted, the opening was there. Jon planted and pivoted. The ranger was leaning away, and for an instant it seemed that Jon’s slash had not touched him. Then a string of red tears appeared across the big man’s throat, bright as a ruby necklace, and the blood gushed out of him, and Qhorin Halfhand fell” Martin, George R.R. (2003-01-01). A Game of Thrones/A Clash of Kings (Kindle Locations 27767-27770). Bantam. Kindle Edition).
And besides, Ghost was the one who attacked Half-hand first.
But in the show? Nope! Here, Jon is an active participant in the deed! THIS Jon Snow actually takes some action; he takes a stand and decides to embrace his roll and take a shot at this! LOVED IT! I even enjoyed the way Jon teased Ygritte as she slashed at him and missed and then as he tells the truth (“…first time you have ever held a sword, huh?”). This Jon Snow is freed from the foolish chains that bound him in the books (the reluctant hero nonsense. I liked that with Jon Snow goes a man who is going to do his hard fought duty. And as for Halfhand- all men must die, few as cool as that.
No Starks in Winterfell: Although the destruction of Winterfell MUST seem odd to the viewers who have not read the books, the finality of these scenes were exceptional. I thought Bran and Rickon’s escape and departure were very well done and beautiful. The wolves, the scenery of desolation, the wreckage. And obviously, once again, Master Luwin was amazing; the pure and unalterable feeling of humanity and goodness from him; how he touched both these boys; reached out to them and sad that he knew every day of their lives from the first and counted himself lucky for that privilege. That was truly touching, deep and real. All men must die but few as dignified as that.
And I loved that Theon was crazy and the ngave this incredible speech ... and then his men knocked him out because he's such a fucking idiot.
Does Stannis Baratheon Have to Choke a Bitch? Stannis is alive, well and rip shit. At first he takes it out on Mel, but then knows that is not … just. In the flames he sees … something. Prophecy means nothing to him as he regrets, deeply, his killing of Renly. But in a whisper he hears that he will do things far, far worse than that. And Stannis…A. King. Knows. All Men Must Die and Stannis Baratheon May be killing a few more of them. Soon.
The Edge of Our Sanity: Dany’s trip through the wreckages of her life and alternate lives- from the Throne she still wants, to the Husband and child she lost, to the Wall she must defend, Dany’s trip through worlds that would be and could be was phenomenal (though… a part of me thought “this could be done better…. No Viserys? Rhaegar?). Regardless, what was actually done was great. At least this part (see more below). All men must die, especially creepy shits who can pull of mass assignations but seem to be confused on proper kidnappings.
Varys and the whore: Holy shit we finally get to a Roz scene that worked! Only twenty episodes in but it finally happened! Granted, it took one of the best actors to pull it off, but it worked! Huzzah!
For YOUR troubles: Pyrcell’s small revenge was sweet, but so is Tyrion’s ever increasing knowledge that he is in quicksand. Varys gives him empty platitudes (though maybe heart felt), his father is nowhere to be found, his guards gone, his clansmen gone and the world suddenly outside his view. And that little coin at the end. A whore is a whore is a whore. For your troubles… classic. (and I almost could stomach Shae's part of the scene.... almost).
The Beginning of the End: All Men Must Die, but some come back as wrights and Others and try to invade the South. Amazing final scene!
What I am On the Fence about:
Before the New Gods and the … Okay Just ... Just the New Gods: The fact that when Robb Stark- The KING in the North, mind you- marries a woman from another continent he swears it ONLY by the NEW Gods it was an unfortunate allegory to how cheaply, tacked on and phony this story line finished. Its not that he did not say anything about the Old Gods- that’s just a symptom; it’s the fact that Robb Stark does this INCREDIBLY STUPID thing with his mother standing there (in her tent) and does so with full knowledge of how FUCKING STUPID he is being! He knows he’s being an ass; he knows he is screwing the Frey’s and he just does it! In the books, Robb could say “I needed to make an honest woman out of her”; in the show? In the show Robb has no protection; he really IS just a stupid, irresponsible oath-breaker! He does everything with real contemplation. That was always my fear once Cat came back and Robb was still there; that his choice to toss the Freys aside would not have that same dimension it did in the books- in the books, Robb was “rash”, “impulsive” and “young.” But in the show? Now Robb is not “rash” but “foolish”; not “impulsive” but “idiotic”, and no longer “young” but “immature.” He wants everything NOW! NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!
You know how bad that was? IN the scene where Robb was talking to Cat – if you go back and READ the scene- just take the dialog- Robb does not sound like Robb; he sounds like … Joff.
Skipping Book Three: So, the Brienne scene. Total waste of time. What happened? What did we need to see here? Brienne got angry and killed a few guys. We knew she could kill people already. Brienne showed that she does not like needless suffering; we knew that already as well. Jaime showed that he did not want to be captured; well, we REALLY knew that already. What the fuck was this scene for? (the actual answer is “The actors have agents and demand screen time.”) It was a complete waste of time. I mean here is what the scene was: travelling with Brienne, seeing the after-effects of a war, seeing cruelty, and most everything we saw could have been skipped;a complete waste of time.
In other words, they are not just starting early on “A Storm of Swords”; the show is jumping right into the epic monotony of “A Feast for Crows.”
What I did Not Like:
Empty: I liked that she corrected Doreah on how to pronounce Qarth. I liked that she caught Doreah.
And the rest of Dany’s story-line was utterly vacant and empty. Void of thought, void of meaning, void of connectivity to the rest of the story.
Look, it was not going to be as interesting as the books, I got that. But this felt tacked on, half-thought out and not well balanced against the rest of the story. Dany’s story was a story-line of half-measures that took twice as long as it needed to. It was no fun and utterly anti-climactic. She starts yelling in the very first scene and then its wandering around. Then she gets trapped and we get the “Drogon dracarys”… and its … bad. They shoot fire. Who cares? That just means Pratt Prye et all had a fucking terrible plan. You know they’re dragons, right? You think maybe they know how to shoot fire? In the books, Drogon Dracarys is the most amazing scene in the series (possible); here? A really, REALLY shitty escape hatch.
But it gets worse. Dany and her people- who seem to fluctuate in number between “three” to as high as “Able to break into the King of Qarth’s Castle, kill everyone and get into the King’s bed chamber without waking him up” – take the King and Doreah to the vault where its empty (ohhh… edgy) and throw them in. Terrific. They then ransack the place. And remember- these are LESS PEOPLE than Dany had when she failed to protect the Dragons the first time! And we waited four episodes … for that.
For Dany to open and empty vault. If that’s not a metaphor for Dany’s story line in this season, I’m not sure what is.
Clash of Kings is pretty void of Dany and the show did not have much to work with. But they wasted SO MUCH time and space on Qarth- on political maneuverings we did not care about; with plots that had more holes in them then a sieve; with characters we had no chance to care about. All of that was empty, vapid, selfish and utterly wasted. In retrospect you could have made Dany trapped in the House of the Undying for two episodes and just done a better job of it. Instead we got a fast-forward House that had NOTHING to it (except what I noted in the scenes I liked) and a plot against Dany that had no substance or reality to it.
Simply put: Fail.
Overall, though, the episode was pretty good, not great. However it did what it needed to do without making it feel rushed.
Overall: This season was uneven, but ultimately very satisfying. It started off with good building blocks and gave us a lot to see, interact with and enjoy. From Robb and Jaime to Stannis v. Tyrion it was a really enjoyable season that did all the things it needed to do and gave us a few moments of real flair and and drama. There were slow points – ultimately Robb’s love problem appears to have been too much “love” and not enough “problem” in Robb’s mind; Dany’s journey was not just unfulfilling but took away too much time from the rest of the story- but it had a series of amazing moments and maybe the best episode in the show’s short life (Blackwater). I am really looking forward to the next season. Again.
(and to all those who explain how much they enjoy my posts- either through comments or the “Like” button, I really, truly appreciate it. Thanks for reading).