Monday, April 2, 2012

Gabbing About Game of Thrones, S02E01: The North Remembers

Yesterday, my friend Steven from Race for the Iron Throne recapped and discussed the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones.  Last night Season 2 premiered with "The North Remembers."  Join us as we discuss CGI, debate whether Cersei's a good mom, and consider potential teeshirt designs.  We also actually hit upon a few things that happened in the episode:

Entertained Organizer:
Season 2, Episode 1: In Which Joffrey Has The Worst Name Day Party Ever, Sansa Figures Out How To Play The GameTyrion Comes To Town, Bran Gets Bored And Dreams He’s A Wolf, Dany Gets Lost In The Desert, Craster Is Creepy, Jon Learns A Lesson, A King Burns Gods, A Letter Is Written, Fire Trumps Poison, A Caged Kingslayer Speaks, The Imp Tries Out His Bed, A Discussion Is Had On The Nature Of Power, Offers Are Made Then Orders Given, Joffrey Gets Slapped, Roz Teaches A Workshop, And The Bastards Are Massacred.
Race for the Iron Throne:
Sweet. So I'll open with my general feeling - I thought it was amazing. Visually, I thought the use of the comet to transition and bring a sense of cohesion to widely-dispersed characters was equal to the best in Season 2. I thought the returning characters really brought their A game and showed the growth that's happened between seasons, and the new characters were by and large well done. Star of the episode was Tyrion, despite strong challenges from other actors.
Entertained Organizer:
My rule is that Tyrion is automatically always the best, but I did love the dawning realization on Cersei's part that she's not nearly as control as she thought she was
Race for the Iron Throne:
She showed amazing variation throughout the episode, from calm and collected to totally rattled to unexpected fear.
Entertained Organizer:
I actually think my favorite scene from the episode was her and Littlefinger discussing power
Race for the Iron Throne:
So, shall we start from the top? What did you think of the new location in the credits?
Entertained Organizer:
I was actually a little disappointed by Dragonstone, it just didn't seem as complex as the Season 1 cities
Race for the Iron Throne:
It was supposed to look like a dragon, and I didn't really see it enough - I got the spine, but not the wings. And now we smash-cut to Joffrey's name-day and a wonderful little fight sequence. And instantly, Joffrey is going for sadism mixed with insecurity.
Entertained Organizer:
and Sansa is already pretty adept at using that to control or at least moderate him
Race for the Iron Throne:
Very much in prisoner-survival mode. What did you think of Ser Dontos?
Entertained Organizer:
well, I think it's more than just survival mode though
Race for the Iron Throne:
How so?
Entertained Organizer:
because she does save Ser Dontos (with the Hound's help), that was a potentially huge risk she took for no personal benefit
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. Although when she spoke out, it was her humanity breaking through her control, and then trying to spin her way out of her mistake.
Entertained Organizer:
fair enough, I just think it's interesting that she still has enough of her father left in her to speak out at all
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. And then Tyrion shows up, and just effortlessly steals the scene like candy from a baby.
Entertained Organizer:
and instantly realizes how badly Sansa is hurting
Race for the Iron Throne:
A nice moment of humanity, but with horrible unforeseen consequences. We then cut to the Small Council and we immediately see their utter callousness towards the people who are suffering BECAUSE of them. And then Tyrion comes in whistling, grabs more wine, and immediately makes Cersei flip her lid.
Entertained Organizer:
is there actually a single scene with Tyrion where he isn't drinking?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. Just one. Take a drink when Tyrion drinks would be a bad idea for a drinking game, imo.
Entertained Organizer:
or a great idea. the council meeting really is fantastic though
Race for the Iron Throne:
Agreed. And I loved Tyrion's line about "if I could trick father, I’d be emperor of the world by now."
Entertained Organizer:
"you love your children, that is your only redeeming quality.  That and your cheekbones" is I think easily the best line of the episode
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think it's a tie. I really thought the scene between the two of them was really inventive. You could see Tyrion working her levers. He plays on her father issues, then on her fear of war, then her love for Jaime. And just works her like a machine.
Entertained Organizer:
they are siblings
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but Cersei does't understand him better than he does her.
Entertained Organizer:
true
Race for the Iron Throne:
So now we cut to Bran, and although most people found this boring, I liked seeing Bran's showing some bite and the continuation of the theme of leadership. What did you think of the wolf dream?
Entertained Organizer:
I liked it, we've known something’s been up with Bran's dreams since last season. He knew his father was dead before word was brought to Winterfell, and there's the freaky three eyed crow dreams
Race for the Iron Throne:
And in comparison to the crow dreams, much more interesting. Visually.
Entertained Organizer:
I actually liked the way they parceled out the crow dreams
Race for the Iron Throne:
I thought they were undramatic.
Entertained Organizer:
and yet you defend a scene of him hearing complaints about masons
Race for the Iron Throne:
Sure. Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes).
Entertained Organizer:
don't get me wrong, I actually think it did a good job of showing Bran growing up and accepting responsibility coupled with Winter Is Coming and what that actually means but it's also the scene most likely to get cut for time if this wasn't on HBO
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. Then we transition to Fire. They looked messed up in the desert. The dragon felt very real. Another great, short conversation on leadership and a bit of Dany/Jorah shipping.
Entertained Organizer:
all of the CGI was actually really impressive in this episode. Especially the wolves
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, the wolves felt real, and I've seen so many bad wolves on film.
Entertained Organizer:
if I didn't know that they'd made the decision to go full CGI on the wolves, I wouldn't have guessed
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, they had real wolves for some shots. Notably, when Robb's touching Grey Wind.
Entertained Organizer:
that makes way more sense than what I had going on in my head. End tangent
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now we smash-cut to Ice.
Entertained Organizer:
and Game of Thrones doubling down on the creepy incest
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. I was surprised by people complaining that Craster looked too clear, but he sounded like Hannibal Lecter, and all he had to say was "wives" to freak me the fuck out.
Entertained Organizer:
well and also, Craster isn't the one who's inbred
Race for the Iron Throne:
I liked the undertones of the North as a libertarian paradise, where you're free to rape your offspring. Ron Paul/Caster 2012!
Entertained Organizer:
don't give him ideas
Race for the Iron Throne:
And I liked the way they undercut the live free or die with her total Patty Hearst reading of the line.
Entertained Organizer:
but slightly more seriously, Craster gives us are first real look at Westeros from the outside
Race for the Iron Throne:
I liked the way he made you look at the idea of what it means to be "the North."
Entertained Organizer:
because the stuff across the narrow sea is all ex pats or merchant traders who are effectively in the Seven Kingdoms bubble, well and the Dothraki who don't seem to think about it at all
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. What did you think of Dolorous Edd?
Entertained Organizer:
you'll have to refresh my memory, I'm usually bad at names before this show throws 30 new characters at me
Race for the Iron Throne:
The guy who cracked wise "I grew up in a place like this. Then I fell on hard times." With the ears.
Entertained Organizer:
oh right, he worked for me
Race for the Iron Throne:
Just the first of many lines from Westeros' saddest comedian.
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, and that brings us to the biggest introduction of new characters in the episode: King Stannis and his entourage. I think they did an amazing job
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, really gave me goosebumps.
Entertained Organizer:
once we get to Dragonstone, there's not a single character we already knew. It would have been really easy for it to feel completely disconnected from the rest of the episode. Instead it was more "oh ya, these guys, I wonder what's going on over here"
Race for the Iron Throne:
So on the beach - I thought Davos was effortless, like he stepped out from the page, Stannis had EPIC grumpyface, and Melisandre was nicely underplayed. That could have been SUCH a campy role.
Entertained Organizer:
still plenty of time for it to go wrong
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, but that's one of her most dramatic scenes.
Entertained Organizer:
and jumping ahead just a little bit, I did think the glowing red gem was a bit campy
Race for the Iron Throne:
Oh, I loved that.
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because it was so brief.
Entertained Organizer:
and I will give them credit for not focusing in on it
Race for the Iron Throne:
So then the next scene in the table room, and Stannis just comes through. PERFECTLY. The bit where he says "he wasn't my beloved brother. I didn't love him and he didn't love me." That's Stannis.
Entertained Organizer:
I lied before, Stannis dictating the letter is my favorite scene
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes.
Entertained Organizer:
it tells you everything you need to know about the character
Entertained Organizer:
“she slept with her brother Jaime Lannister, Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer, call him what he is” and then adding the Ser
Race for the Iron Throne:
I felt they rushed Cressen's offer of the cup, it didn't have time to build dread, but I really liked how they reversed it from the book. another good line - "loyal service means telling hard truths." Leadership from the other side.
Entertained Organizer:
Stannis is clearly a guy who colors inside the lines
Race for the Iron Throne:
His life is the lines. I loved Davos' line about how many ships has the Lord of Light.
Entertained Organizer:
I know I'm repeating myself, but all of these characters just slip so seamlessly into the world of the show
Race for the Iron Throne:
And I like seeing the places in which things could have gone differently if anyone was willing to deal. So many ways the war could have ended this episode. If Stannis had been ready to deal with either challenger, the war ends decisively, and had Cersei not messed up, she could have achieved peace with the North.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm going to do something odd and defend Cersei. There's not a lot she could have done differently
Race for the Iron Throne:
Keep track of Arya?
Entertained Organizer:
Joffrey IS king and Arya escaping was a freak accident involving a bravosi sell sword sacrificing his life for her
Race for the Iron Throne:
BS. Arya's running around the city for days. And she doesn't send anyone looking for her.
Entertained Organizer:
we don't actually know that
Race for the Iron Throne:
It is known.
Entertained Organizer:
we just know that no one found her which makes sense, they'd be looking for her inside the castle
Race for the Iron Throne:
No visible Goldcloak presence on the streets. Compared to how thorough they were in hunting down the bastards. If Cersei had given the order, Arya would be found.
Entertained Organizer:
bah, the bigger problem is still that Joffrey executed Ned, and I don't really know what Cersei could have done about that. She thought it was all worked out and then in public the KING went off book
Race for the Iron Throne:
She could have touched base with Ilyn Payne or the Hound.
Entertained Organizer:
neither of them could have publicly ignored Joffrey's order to execute Ned
Race for the Iron Throne:
They could have taken him off to be "killed." The High Septon could have intervened. There were options. "the King's fallen ill!" Etc.
Entertained Organizer:
it's an execution for treason against the crown. It needed to be public, that's the point of those things. There's no way to stop that execution once Joffrey orders it that doesn't delegitimize him
Race for the Iron Throne:
Then DON'T CROWN HIM.
Entertained Organizer:
he's the "rightful" heir
Race for the Iron Throne:
He's not of majority. Even aged up.
Entertained Organizer:
they had to to provide stability in light of the "plot" by the hand to usurp the throne. Like she was a terrible mother and that's after the incest
Race for the Iron Throne:
I don't buy it.
Entertained Organizer:
but Cersei's sins were long past, here I think she's actually doing the best she can with what she's got
Race for the Iron Throne:
She's in the driver's seat, and she made the wrong call. Moving on. Robb's camp. I loved this scene. Showed Robb to be much smarter, much cannier than in the books. He just schooled Jaime the quipmaster.
Entertained Organizer:
it does help to have the other guy in chains and scared to death of a dire wolf when it comes to witty comebacks
Race for the Iron Throne:
Right, but here's a guy who was cracking wise on his knees with swords to his neck. Or with a rock cracked across his head.
Entertained Organizer:
in universe that was months ago though
Race for the Iron Throne:
Nope. I worked it out based on Tyrion's travels.
Entertained Organizer:
of course you did
Race for the Iron Throne:
It was between 9-26 days. Because Tyrion traveled 500 miles from the Green Fork to King's Landing. And a horse usually goes 20-30 miles a day, but a trained courser could go 50-60.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, so a month of captivity can soften a guy up, as will a wolf the size of a cow
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but Robb was just very good about not reacting the way Jaime wanted him to. Very different from his scene with Tyrion in S01E04.
Entertained Organizer:
winning a few battles and being declared King apparently helps one grow up fast
Race for the Iron Throne:
He's responsible for the fate of a nation now. And I loved the peace offer scene, because you can see him reconstructing a new nationalism on the spot. "We are a free and independent nation, from this time to the end of time." That's virtually straight out of Jacobite pamphlets from the 1750s.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm impressed that I honestly believe Greyjoy when he says that Ned taught him to be an honorable man, because there's no way that situation ends well
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah, that line was very interesting. Although sending Theon, as we've agreed, was a major mistake. However, planning to ally with Renly (as opposed to Stannis) shows foresight and pragmatism. One book change I loved: Ned's letter makes it through, so Stannis is passing it on to Robb. Gives Ned a final victory.
Entertained Organizer:
I had forgotten it hadn't in the book
Race for the Iron Throne:
Me too. Not until I did the re-read did I see that Ned failed in the book. So back to King's Landing. Shae's diiirty.
Entertained Organizer:
she's a woman who only gets ahead if she convinces the very smart short man that she lusts for him constantly
Race for the Iron Throne:
And it's kind of weird that they're going to be screwing on Ned's bed.
Entertained Organizer:
well, Tyrion does say he'll need to replace the bed because it's too stiff
Race for the Iron Throne:
Still. I feel like his ghost is going to be there, judging them.
Entertained Organizer:
which I kind of like the idea that Ned was so unwilling to flex his Hand-muscle that he slept on an uncomfortable bed rather than having it replaced
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think Ned ordered the uncomfortable bed.
Entertained Organizer:
that also works
Race for the Iron Throne:
A proper bed, none of this soft Southern stuff. And again, a conversation on truth. What did you think of the Littlefinger/Cersei scene, it was very controversial.
Entertained Organizer:
it was? I loved it
Race for the Iron Throne:
On the intertubes. Many people hated it because they thought Littlefinger was stupid.
Entertained Organizer:
I think it was necessary for new viewers
Race for the Iron Throne:
in the scene. But I thought they were forgetting how much of a gambler, how big of an ego he has.
Entertained Organizer:
not only does it lay out his philosophy pretty clearly, he actually does it in a way that violates it (showing off his immense ego) and immediately gets slapped down for it. I mean it was stupid, but it was stupid in a believable way
Race for the Iron Throne:
This was a guy who based a criminal conspiracy on an easily-disprovable lie and  continually taunted Ned Stark. He's not perfect.
Entertained Organizer:
exactly
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the smooth choreography of the Lannister men was frightening.
Entertained Organizer:
the only thing missing was Cersei telling the guards to hop on one leg
Race for the Iron Throne:
Joffrey's scene in the throne room was chilling; great acting by Lena Heady.
Entertained Organizer:
not only was it great acting, but she got to slap Joffrey, which needs to become more of a running gag in the show because it's awesome every single time someone does it
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. Some other things - Joffrey sassing Tywin! Cersei going all in to save Jaime is really a weakness, and then he goes all Herod.
Entertained Organizer:
and more seriously, I think it's the first time she actually realizes exactly how big the monster she created was
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And it's all in her eyes.
Entertained Organizer:
children do not do well in Game of Thrones premieres
Race for the Iron Throne:
God. That was really hard to watch. BTW, I didn't hate Ros. ZOMG!
Entertained Organizer:
Hahahahaha, I'm telling you, Roz is going to win the game of thrones
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think she's going to stand in for Alaya.
Entertained Organizer:
a month in King's Landing and she's already running the brothel
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which means she doesn't end well.
Entertained Organizer:
nope, she's the producers exit plan if GRRM dies or never finishes the series
Entertained Organizer:
BAM
Entertained Organizer:
Roz becomes queen
Race for the Iron Throne:
We know there's a scene where she gets whipped later.
Entertained Organizer:
I did not know that
Race for the Iron Throne:
Ayup.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm on Team Roz, that's all I know
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm Team Smallfolk.
Entertained Organizer:
also that even though I knew it was coming, the savagery of the butchering of the bastards surprised me
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And it's going to backfire - Joffrey's just confirmed he fears the story.
Entertained Organizer:
Team Roz is Team Smallfolk, she's suffering for the war like all the others
Race for the Iron Throne:
BTW, can you do me a T-Shirt graphic with Team Smallfolk in Soviet Cyrillic? maybe with a picture of the King's Landing gears behind?
Entertained Organizer:
Team Smallfolk: We have enough food for a five year winter, any longer and we'll have fewer peasants
Race for the Iron Throne:
Team Smallfolk: we have fed you all for eight thousand years. Name that tune!
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, no clue
Race for the Iron Throne:
Entertained Organizer:
and I'm terrified to discover that your encyclopedic knowledge of everything also apparently stretches to music
Race for the Iron Throne:
Commie music.
Entertained Organizer:
I should have known
Race for the Iron Throne:
Technically, anarcho-syndicalist music.
Entertained Organizer:
clearly
Race for the Iron Throne:
So yes or no to the t-shirt?
Entertained Organizer:
haha, I'll see what I can do

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