Monday, April 9, 2012

Gabbing About Game of Thrones, S02E02: The Night Lands

My friend Steven (of Race for the Iron Throne) and I continue our conversation about HBO's Game of Thrones.  This time, last night's episode "The Night Lands", we actually have teeshirts,  and we choose to agree to disagree about whether Battleship The Movie is real or some kind of prank Hollywood is pulling on us.

Race for the Iron Throne:
So...EPISODE 2: The Nightlands. Do you have a summary ready or should I go with one?
Entertained Organizer:
well first we have a little bookkeeping to do like showing everyone this link of you on British Television
Entertained Organizer:
(about four and a half minutes in)
Entertained Organizer:
oooo, aaaaaa, we're in the presence of a real celebrity
Race for the Iron Throne:
A real 20 second celebrity. Apparently the 5 minutes of fame has been hit by the decline of attention spans like everything else.
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, we also have one other piece of news
Race for the Iron Throne:
The T-Shirts!
Entertained Organizer:
I honestly thought we were joking
Race for the Iron Throne:
Entertained Organizer:
that's right, we actually did it
Race for the Iron Throne:
Oooh...Team Smallfolk. Get yours today!
Entertained Organizer:
ok, now we're ready. Season 2, Episode 2: The Nightlands:
In which Arya pees in the woods and gold cloaks get threatened, Varys and Tyrion exchange words on friendship, the Small Council considers kings and superstitions,
the men of the Night’s Watch discuss farting and farms, Sam makes a friend and Jon has concerns, a horse returns with only it’s rider’s head, Theon takes a saltwife and pontificates on his people, Littlefinger explains the nature of investments and grief, Janos is convinced to join the Night’s Watch and Bronn gets a promotion, children discuss the nature of battle and Arya makes a friend, Theon  tries to seduce his sister and ends up disappointing his dad, Davos understands pirates and promises, Tyrion spends some quality time with his sister and learns about his nephew, Melisandre promises Stannis a son and he pays the price, and Jon should use the buddy system.
Race for the Iron Throne:
So, we see Pyke for the first time in the credits, and I think it's the best new location we've seen this season.
Entertained Organizer:
there hasn't been a lot of competition though
Race for the Iron Throne:
Dragonstone. So yeah. We open on Arya babbling into a brook, which I didn't catch the first time. And combined with her head gestures sets up this interesting theme of voyeurism and the intersection between gender and power we see throughout the episode.
Entertained Organizer:
I somehow did not get that at all. I just thought they were reminding us that she had to keep the fact she was a girl hidden
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, but its about her worrying about being seen.
Entertained Organizer:
we also get actual dialogue from the creepy guys in the cage
Race for the Iron Throne:
So we meet Jaqen H'gghar for the first time! And he's appropriately exotic and weird, whereas his companions are quite revolting.
Entertained Organizer:
that's putting it mildly
Race for the Iron Throne:
Arya gets all fierce with a stick, chats with Gendry about the caged trio, and then the goldcloaks show up.
Entertained Organizer:
which is pretty much the first time Yoren actually proves himself to be a badass
Race for the Iron Throne:
Showing that you don't need a sword if you have a knife at someone's femoral artery.
Entertained Organizer:
a lesson as valuable today as it was a thousand years ago
Race for the Iron Throne:
Indeed. So "Arry" spills the first pot of beans to Gendry, who it turns out has a secret of his own!
Entertained Organizer:
that's actually jumping ahead
Race for the Iron Throne:
No, first pot of beans is that she's a fugitive.
Entertained Organizer:
oh ya, good catch
Race for the Iron Throne:
There are multiple pots of beans. So now we get Tyrion whistling his theme song and unexpectedly bumps into Varys, who's having a bit of girl talk with Shae. Because apparently no one just locks a door in King's Landing.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't think a locked door would actually stop Varys
Race for the Iron Throne:
No, but it at least would show some effort. Make him work for it, you know. One of my top three scenes this episode.
Entertained Organizer:
that almost seems unfair, it has both Tyrion and Varys in it, either one is usually enough to get a scene into the top 3 for me
Entertained Organizer:
Shae seemed to be having a nice time
Race for the Iron Throne:
Varys is the ultimate nonthreatening male companion. So we get some great dialogue about threats and paddling, mostly straight from the book. The one innovation that I loved - fish pie! Apparently Shae has killer gay-dar.
Entertained Organizer:
as much as I enjoyed the scene I actually though it was a bit superfluous, we already knew that Tyrion was more savvy than Ned Stark. The only real thing we learned was that Varys knew about Shae, which, since he's Varys, should surprise exactly no one
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's actually quite thematically important - once again, it's about the fear of discovery - but it's also necessary to set up his and Tyrion's relationship.
Entertained Organizer:
sure, and it's great watching the two of them go at it, I'm just saying that other scenes managed to convey character AND move the plot forward
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, it transitions into a council scene where Cersei perfects the art of paper ripping and refuses to send aid to the Night's Watch. They've left out something interesting from the book that I wonder if they're going to keep in the series.
Entertained Organizer:
and Tyrion gets to point out once again how terrible his sister is at politics
Race for the Iron Throne:
Indeed.
Entertained Organizer:
it would cost them literally nothing to send Ned's bones home
Race for the Iron Throne:
We don't actually see them deciding against it, so it might happen.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm willing to take bets on that
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now we transition to Craster's keep, where Dolorous Edd, Grenn, and Sam discuss farts, girls, and the meaning of human dignity confronted with human frailty - like teenage boys do.
Entertained Organizer:
so mostly focused on the farting
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the intense desirability of women who, putting it politely, seem to be walking piles of fur.
Entertained Organizer:
it's very cold north of the wall and I'm not sure why anyone would feel driven to look good for their father/husband
Race for the Iron Throne:
The omnipresent threat of gendered violence?
Entertained Organizer:
while depressing, I think that would actually require Caster to care about them more than he does. They're "his" and as long as no one else touches them, he doesn't really care
Race for the Iron Throne:
He does disparage half of them compared to Jon Snow, but that level of incest is really pushing the boundaries of viability.
Entertained Organizer:
which is also something I'm not really sure that Craster cares about, which we'll see a bit more of later. And now we're in the desert, have you noticed that the show really likes cutting from North of the wall to Dany in the desert?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Ho-ho-hold on there. First, we see Ghost all growed up and hungry for rabbit. And we meet Gilly, who is saved by a braver-than-usual Sam.
Entertained Organizer:
I got the sense that he wasn't THAT worried about Ghost besides you know, him being a 5 foot tall wolf
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which apparently they're doing with real wolves, then CGI-magnifying them. And Sam introduces Gilly to Jon, who is sharpening his sword IN THE WRONG WAY.
Entertained Organizer:
why does it not surprise me at all that you knew that?
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's a good way to ruin a sword blade - you sharpen in long strokes down, not short across. Anyway, Sam sticks up for Gilly's personhood - showing some feminist chops! Women are not goats - new t-shirt design?
Entertained Organizer:
oh god, probably yes
Race for the Iron Throne:
Cool. So now we get the symbolic transition from Ice to Fire. And we see a nice homage to Lawrence of Arabia with the horse emerging out of the mirage.
Entertained Organizer:
good catch. Ok, I am going to confess that I am not 100% sure which of her blood riders died, it was the guy we actually knew who was buddies with Jorah right?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yah.
Entertained Organizer:
I liked him
Race for the Iron Throne:
Rakharo, who doesn't die in the book, but who got a plum role in World War Z.
Entertained Organizer:
I still don't understand how that book can be turned into a movie
Race for the Iron Throne:
In a world in which Battleship the movie is a thing, it's almost noble in comparison.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't actually believe that Battleship The Movie is real.  I think it's some kind of practical joke that Hollywood is playing on the world
Race for the Iron Throne:
So we see gendered power again - the Dothrraki don't like a woman leading a khalassar.
Entertained Organizer:
no they really don't, and unfortunately her khalassar isn't doing too well
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now we get to see Pyke through Theon's eyes. And he is immediately acting the rich punk.
Entertained Organizer:
to be fair, that's not actually a change from how we've ever seen him behave before. I felt bad for his saltwife, her father is probably going to beat her now
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah...Two things: 1. Theon getting his hopes up so high it's delicious, and 2. "hard places breed hard men" and hard women too as we'll learn.
Entertained Organizer:
this is also the point where you have to start wondering if incest is a metaphor for something or George RR Martin just has issues because it's really weird that he went to that well again with Theon and his sister and even if you accept that Theon simply doesn't recognize her and starts groping every woman he meets (which is probably a fair assumption), she didn't stop him even though she knew he was her brother
Race for the Iron Throne:
In the book, she initiates to headfuck with Theon. But there is a anthropological basis for this - incest taboos require socialization between children to set. But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. The kink in question now is Littlefinger's professional voyeurism.
Entertained Organizer:
I think the really disturbing part is that he comes across as just a manager checking in on his employees
Race for the Iron Throne:
A very hands-on manager.
Entertained Organizer:
did you at least feel bad for Roz (our once and future queen)?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I was more creeped out by Littlefinger's vile story. Although I liked the line about "those with the most power have the least grace."
Entertained Organizer:
he murdered the girl because one of his clients was a necrophiliac right or was it something creepier?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think it's the necrophiliac, but I think the client paid to "transform" the girl himself. So now we see another awesome scene, possibly my #2 scene - Tyrion bringing the smackdown on Janos "Babykiller" Slynt. "I'm not questioning your honor, Lord Slynt, I'm denying its existence."
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, his complete disbelief that the men he was able to get kill babies for money might actually betray him for cash was amazing
Race for the Iron Throne:
Hey, they balked at killing the baby. I think the bigger disbelief was that men who had watched him kill a baby wouldn't jump at the chance to ship his ass to the Wall.
Entertained Organizer:
also just amazing acting by Dinklage
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yep. Nice switch having Bronn in as commander of the City Watch.
Entertained Organizer:
without a word you could see his sadness that his only "friend" would murder a baby if he paid him enough
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yep. So now we see the Two Stooges and Arya discussing what a battle is.
Entertained Organizer:
we also get my favorite line of the episode: "you shouldn't insult people bigger than you", "then I couldn't insult anyone"
Race for the Iron Throne:
I like Tyrion's better, but that one was quite good. So now Gendry and Arya have a discussion about Arya's gender and class identity, and it's very cute.
Entertained Organizer:
she is an amazing actress and I feel bad that I can never remember her name
Race for the Iron Throne:
Maisie Williams. It's not that hard; how many Maisie's do you hear about?
Entertained Organizer:
we've been friends for 8 years and I still have to think about your name sometimes, I'm just really bad with names
Race for the Iron Throne:
Now we're back at Pyke for some much needed incest.
Entertained Organizer:
and ok, you made a good point about the psychology of incest earlier and how this is plausible, my issue is more meta
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah, we do go to that well three times.
Entertained Organizer:
four
Race for the Iron Throne:
The Targs, Jaime and Cersei, and this.
Entertained Organizer:
Caster. That makes incest a major theme of the series
Race for the Iron Throne:
Ah, 4 you're right. It arguably is. So back to the plot - it's amazing how thoroughly Balon Greyjoy emasculates his son in about a minute flat; rivaling Tywin for "Disappointed Dad of the Year."
Entertained Organizer:
I actually think he beats Tywin. With Jaime Tywin is disappointed because he expects more, and with Tyrion he actually ends up mildly impressed. Balon doesn't expect anything from Theon after 9 years with the Starks, and makes it clear that he got even less
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah, but at least he's proud of his non-gender conforming daughter.
Entertained Organizer:
true
Race for the Iron Throne:
I thought they did the iron price/gold price really well, but I don't get how there are House Greyjoy fans out there.
Entertained Organizer:
and much like the introduction of Stannis last episode, Balon's character comes through so perfectly in just a few lines of dialogue
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yep.
Entertained Organizer:
it's impressive
Race for the Iron Throne:
So Theon's fucked, and so is Robb, who as we've discussed should have offered his hand to Asha while keeping Theon as a hostage.
Entertained Organizer:
House Greyjoy are basically Vikings, how are you surprised at all that there are a huge number of Greyjoy fans out there?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Because the reality is that they're horrible rapists, murderers, and slavers? Entertained Organizer:
ok, but that was the reality of real vikings and pretty much everyone in the middle ages too, and yet we continue to be fascinated by them. So maybe we're the monsters?
Entertained Organizer:
no, it's the rapist, murdering, slavers who are the monsters, but the Greyjoys have a flag with a Kraken on it, and that's pretty cool
Race for the Iron Throne:
Moving onto Davos and Sallador Saan.
Entertained Organizer:
my actual favorite scene in the episode
Entertained Organizer:
it's the calmest man in the world haggling with his pirate friend
Race for the Iron Throne:
The most honest smuggler in all of Westeros.
Entertained Organizer:
a bunch of great dialogue with the upshot being Stannis gets a navy
Race for the Iron Throne:
More of a navy. 30 more ships.
Entertained Organizer:
and we begin to understand a bit more why Davos is more devoted to him
Race for the Iron Throne:
And we get a great conversation about Davos worshipping Stannis and his son being afraid of a sexy black man, and some stuff about the nature of religion, and the HIGHLY IMPORTANT fact that Davos can't read, and that Stannis cut off the tops of his fingers but made him a lord.
Entertained Organizer:
Sallador Saan sympathizing with Davos for having a zealot for a son was amusing
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And now we get a really uncomfortable scene with Cersei and Tyrion.
Entertained Organizer:
I think you mean really awesome
Race for the Iron Throne:
That too. But Cersei went for one hell of a low blow, and you could see how much it hurt Tyrion.
Entertained Organizer:
true, but while "you killed mom" is pretty bad, "you're sleeping with our brother and your incest brat is a psychotic monster you can't control" isn't exactly Tyrion playing kiss and make up
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. I also like that we see two more theories of how to wield power.
Entertained Organizer:
care to elaborate?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Tyrion understands the importance of public legitimacy, Cersei didn't read the second part of Machiavelli's "it is better to be feared than loved."
Race for the Iron Throne:
Do you know the second part?
Entertained Organizer:
if you cannot be both. And it is kind of amazing that Cersei can't see how a random baby massacre could be a problem down the line, unless she's just in willfull denial
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, but it's also "so long as you are careful not to be hated." She basically views peasants as inhuman.
Entertained Organizer:
and that's why you should show your support by buying a Team Smallfolk teeshirt (that's right, I gave up shame a long time ago)
Race for the Iron Throne:
Precisely.
Entertained Organizer:
and now Stannis gets seduced by the Red Priestess
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. Which I have something to say about all the haters of this scene.
Entertained Organizer:
and while I get the dynastic demand for an heir, he did not need a whole lot of persuading
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's not about a son at all, it’s about her saying he’ll win if he fully commits himself to the Lord of Light. BTW, that was a very awkward sex scene. Do not have sex on top of your Warhammer miniatures, your partner will resent her pointy bruises, and you will resent hundreds of dollars and thousands of manhours down the drain.
Entertained Organizer:
see, this show isn't just about incest and dragons, it also teaches valuable life lessons and gives us a window into your private life that is vaguely terrifying. Which brings us to the final scene, who or what was grabbing Craster's baby in the woods?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I don't actually own any Warhammer minis. And that was a White Walker. And Jon Snow's rangering abilities are rather subpar.
Entertained Organizer:
are you referring to his complete inability to move silently in the woods or his complete inability to hear someone sneaking up on him?
Race for the Iron Throne:
And to figure out in which direction noises are coming from. So, "you're no ranger, Jon," is rather accurate.
Entertained Organizer:
poor guy
Race for the Iron Throne:
He ain't pretty no more!
Entertained Organizer:
any final thoughts?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm really looking forward to seeing Robb win some actual battles? Overall, I thought it was a good episode, but less dynamic than the previous.
Entertained Organizer:
true, but a lot of that was because it's setting up some serious stuff for down the road:
Stannis just increased his navy and is prepping for war with his brother, the Greyjoys are about to go to war with someone who's not the Lannisters, things are going on up in Fargo north of the wall
Race for the Iron Throne:
Agreed. Creepy, Deliverance by way of H.P Lovecraft things.
Entertained Organizer:
now there's a movie I would watch
Race for the Iron Throne:
Shudder.

1 comment:

  1. not a word on the big joffrey/cersei change? (bastard killing)

    ReplyDelete