Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Game On

Before going over the latest Game Of Thrones, "Kill The Boy," let me note that Mad Men's penultimate episode, "The Milk And Honey Route," was the best this season, reminding us why the show is so special.  Don was off on another adventure outside New York, which so often reveal his Dick Whitman side, while ex-wife Betty got some bad news and Pete and Trudy are ready to move on together.  Even without any Joan (have we seen the last of her?), Roger or Peggy, but with a little Duck, the show seems near to closing time.

"Kill The Boy," on the other hand, was probably the weakest episode this season, but even weak Game Of Thrones is enjoyable.  Too much of the episode seem to be stalling--restating what we already know before taking a few baby steps forward.

The episode starts with Barristan on a bier--so no mistaking it, he's dead.  I guess he didn't get his throat slit last week so he wouldn't look too bad.  But Daenerys is feeling it.  The Sons Of The Harpy have gotten to her. How will she respond?  She decides to have all the leaders of the great families brought to her--sure, they may not all be guilty, but a queen can't just take it.

She brings them into the dungeon holding her two dragons.  One family leader is shoved forward. The dragons burn him and eat him--guess they like their food well done.  This is enough for the day, and it sure got everyone's attention.

Dany's deeds have not gone unnoticed. Indeed, Samwell reads a raven's message to Maester Aemon, her only living relative.  Not sure why the Night's Watch gets this info, but then, The New York Times reports news from all over, even stuff you don't care about, so maybe that's how the raven system works.  The message notes (are those raven writers editorializing?) that she won't leave Slavers' Bay until the freedom of the slaves is secure.  And I say come on Dany, you don't owe them anything.  Take Westeros first, and then you can sent out garrisons to deal with Meereen.  You've always been at your best on the move, why are you getting stuck here?

At Castle Black, new Lord Commander Snow has a tough decision to make, but he knew the job was tricky when he took it.  After a quick consult with Aemon (who tells him to "kill the boy" so the man can take over), he talks to Tormund.  (Tormund and Stannis both represent thousands upon thousands of people, but we only ever see a handful--TV budgets).  Snow's revolutionary idea turns the Night's Watch concept on its head.  The "realm of men" they protect should include the Free Folk--the real enemy are all the White Walkers (who have been threatening from literally the first minute of the show five seasons ago, but still haven't made their move).  He'll let those north of the Wall come through the gate, and Tormund agrees to talk them into trusting Jon as long as Snow comes along (in Stannis's boats, no less).  So Snow will be gone? Who'll mind the Castle?

Snow explains his plans to his men, and, as expected, they're not happy.  Yes, The Gift has abandoned villages, but that's because the Wildings raided them. Just ask Olly.  Stannis watches, though, apparently impressed (when he's not correcting vocabulary words).  He's still here?  For weeks he's been saying he's got to go.  Get moving on Winterfell before winter falls, already.

Outside Winterfell wait Pod and Brienne--which we already knew.  Sansa is home, but Brienne still worries for her. She talks to a servant, judging him to be loyal to the North, and wants to get a message to Sansa.  Maybe it's the only way, but couldn't she vet him a little more?

Meanwhile, Ramsay has to let down his girl, the kennel master's daughter Myranda (whom we've met before but barely remember).  Not much of a scene, perhaps, but we get to see her naked (what would GOT be without some breasts each episode) and learn, as expected, that Ramsay likes it rough.

Meanwhile, Sansa, sans Littlefinger, stews in her room.  The old lady reminds her (and the audience, which is getting a lot of reminding) that the North Remembers and will help her if she's in need.  She goes to look at the tower (where Bran fell from?) and who should meet her but the Myranda, with a surprise gift.  Sansa, all alone, goes along--even with Roose supporting her safety, should Sansa trust Myranda this much? Anyway, Myranda opens the kennel door (I thought Ramsay was at another castle--was her dad a traveling kennel master?) and at the far end, sure enough, is Theon. We've been waiting for this meeting.

Except Theon is now Reek.  He didn't want to be rescued by his own sister, and he certainly doesn't want to see any Starks.  Later, while serving Ramsay, he admits Sansa dropped by.  Ramsay seems ready to flay a finger, or whatever he does when Reek misbehaves, but instead he forgives him.  It's amazing what a new last name can do.

That night it's a very uncomfortable dinner.  Littlefinger is long gone, so Sansa gets to eat alone with the man who killed his mom and older brother, and his son whom she'll be marrying.  Ramsay has the brilliant idea of bringing in Reek to apologize for (supposedly) killing Sansa's younger brothers Bran and Rickon.  So things get even more uncomfortable--though we in the audience are wondering if Theon will ever get his guts back. (He won't get his balls back, that we know.)  Meanwhile, Theon will be giving away the bride.  Huh?

Ramsay is later upbraided for this by daddy Roose, who may be cruel, but is smooth.  But Ramsay is more concerned that Roose's wife Walda is having a baby, probably a boy.  At one time, Winterfell seemed his, but if Roose has a proper son will he lose it all?  Regardless, they've got bigger fish to fry (and Roose has a bigger Frey to fish)--Stannis will be marching soon from Castle Black. See, I told you, he waited way too long. Any element of surprise is long gone.

Back at the Wall, Gilly looks at all the books and worries that Samwell treats her like she's stupid.  Samwell mentions how he wanted t be a Maester, learning at the Citadel in Oldtown.  (He comes from a good family--I think he explained in season one why he took the black, but I forget why).  Anyway, I wonder if something will come from this--Aemon is pretty old, after all.  Then Stannis comes in and we have a fascinating scene between two people who have never met.  Stannis wants to know how Samwell killed a Walker, and we hear about dragonglass and all that.  Stannis, who's softened quite a bit since coming up North, tells Tarly to keep reading up on this stuff.

Next, Stannis goes to tell Davos it's time to march on Winterfell. No, it was time two months ago. It's way past time now.  His wife and daughter will come along, as well Melisandre.  Davos isn't thrilled.  As they leave, Melisandre looks at Snow (and all that power).  I get the feeling Stannis isn't going to make it--will the Boltons stop him, or maybe Brienne? In any case, the Red Lady may be hedging her bets, ready to return to pick up Snow.

Back in Meereen, Grey Worm comes to, watched by Missandei.  They love each other and it's the most boring relationship the show has ever had.  After a quick kiss (how much else can you do with the Unsullied) she goes to Dany, who asks for advice.  He tells the Queen she should do what she wants to do.  So Dany marches into Hizdahr's cell. He fears he'll be thrown to the dragons, but instead she agrees to re-establish the fighting pits, though still no more slavery.  Not a bad idea, perhaps, but she goes one step further--she'll marry into the city, and Hizdahr, from a noble family, is as good a suitor as any.  What?  It's not just that they don't have a spark (and she's sparked with others), but really, this is just Meereen, a city on Slaver's Bay. There'll be plenty of time for strategic weddings when she gains control of Westeros. Don't waste your time on this provincial.

We get to Jorah and Tyrion.  Jorah is going from Volantis to Meereen by ways of Valyria (means nothing to me either), except this is an area of ruins, where the Stone Men live.  These are the guys with greyscale (I think), which keeps pirates away.  And immediately I saw what would happen.  The guys with this plague would attack and one would get the disease, since they've been talking about it all season.  And it had to be Jorah--they wouldn't dare do it to Tyrion.

Sure enough, after seeing Drogon (a nice moment, and useful info if Jorah ever gets to Dany again), the Stoners board the ship.  Not sure why, actually--what do these lepers get?  Are they zombies who crave human flesh, or do they just like messing with people?  Anyway, Jorah fights them off. To escape, Tyrion jumps overboard and is dragged down into the murky depths. He awakes, saved by Mormont. But we see (though Tyrion doesn't) that Jorah's been infected.  The disease will overtake him eventually--but not, presumably, before he gets to Dany. (Or can he get a raven from Shireen explaining and find out how she got better?  Really, if Stannis knows how to do this, he could make a lot of money selling the cure.)

And that's where the show leaves us.  A few plots moving forward, but a lot of them reminding us where we've been.  Meanwhile, a lot was MIA.  Nothing in King's Landing (a rarity)--no Cersei, Tommon, Margaery, High Sparrow and so many others.  No Dorne. I thought this season was all about Dorne, but so far we've gotten very little.  I'd like to see how Jaime and Bronn are progressing, and then there's Prince Doran and the Sand Snakes as well.  Worst of all, no Arya.  With all the new training she should be killing up a storm in no time.

So we've reached the midway point.  Plenty of action coming up.  The fight for Winterfell, the religious fanatics in King's Landing, a possible kidnaping in Dorne, some fun in Braavos and a lot of activity planned for Meereen.  Already the season seems too short.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. By my count, GOT now has three different sets of zombies- OK 4 if you count the White Walkers themselves who seem to be the leader of the dead beyond the wall (the ones Jon is afraid the free folk will turn into). There are also the skeleton creatures that attacked Bran and the Reeds and now the Stone Men (for being stone and all, they seemed pretty darn agile).

I'll mention again that Bolton and Frey were two very inconsistent journeymen pitchers in the early 90s- I think they must have annoyed George RR mightily and he enshrined their name as some of the worst people in Westeros. (They was also a Matt Stark who played around then but I really don't remember him)

7:38 AM, May 12, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alternate theory- A colleague suggests that contrary to Baseball connections, George may just have had it in for bad pop music- Anything by Michael Bolton and "Smugglers Blues" might have triggered things

7:58 AM, May 12, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

A friend of mine who read the books said they're so long and unnecessarily detailed that Martin introduces the same things not twice, but over an over.

Thus, there are several characters known for how fat they are, how tall they are, how beautiful they are, how cynical they are, how good they are at sword play, how pale they are, how blonde they are, how short they are, how magical they are, how brilliant they are, how bellicose they are, how red their hair is, etc.

The TV show has cut this down tremendously, but it's still got the biggest cast and widest-ranging story of anything on the air I can think of.

9:09 AM, May 12, 2015  
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7:26 PM, December 22, 2015  

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