Monday, April 23, 2012

Gabbing About Game of Thrones, S02E04: Garden of Bones

Another week, another episode for Steven of Race for the Iron Throne and I to discuss in Gabbing About Game of Thrones.  This week we hit casting choices, how Leonard Nemoy would feel at home in Qarth, and just how screwed up Joffrey is.  All that and more inside plus the results of our first Reader Contest:


Entertained Organizer:
Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones
In which, soldiers have a Fantasy Tournament League and get slaughtered by wolves, Robb discusses the merits of torture with Bolton and the merits of war with a nurse, Joffrey is a sadist and Sansa impresses Tyrion, Joffrey is even more of a sadist and Roz strikes again, Littlefinger tries to persuade Renly and teases Maergary, Daenerys receives an invitation and Jorah names the episode, Arya reaches Harrenhal and starts a list, Lady Stark still doesn’t like Littlefinger but he gives her a present anyway, Hot Pie relies on dubious evidence and rats escape the heat, Stannis and Renly have some brother bonding time which goes…poorly, the Thirteen want to see dragons and Xaro vouches for Daenerys, Gendry gets lucky and Tywin knows a girl when he sees one, Tyrion figures out a secret and Lancel is pretty screwed, and Stannis wants a smuggler then Davos gets to witness a birth.
Race for the Iron Throne:
So in the credits we have two new locations, which may be the last of the season
Entertained Organizer:
I just want to say that I loved that Harrenhal was the first location that wasn't working clockwork
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes - because it's broken.
Entertained Organizer:
Exactly, I just thought it was a nice touch
Race for the Iron Throne:
It was indeed. Harrenhal looks quite impressive all around, in a soul-crushingly bleak way.
Entertained Organizer:
impossibly large and impossibly broken in truth it was one of the few locations I had trouble picturing when I was reading the books
Race for the Iron Throne:
The scale was a bit hard to figure out.
Entertained Organizer:
also what a half melted castle looks like
Race for the Iron Throne:
I always pictured a vague Hiroshima look. Anyway...let's go in chronological order, no?
Entertained Organizer:
yes, enough geeking out about the opening credits
Race for the Iron Throne:
So we open with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost geeking out. Let's talk about who would win a sword fight, which is so less geeky.
Entertained Organizer:
haha, Fantasy Football really has always existed
Race for the Iron Throne:
I don't see it as fantasy football. For me, this was medieval nerdom.
Entertained Organizer:
who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Precisely. Or to put it another way: Oswell Whent or Arthur Dayne?
Entertained Organizer:
just FYI, Fantasy Football is really nerdy even if its about sports
Race for the Iron Throne:
That's true, but this was comic book nerdom obviously.
Entertained Organizer:
also Batman and Jaime win - just in case any of our readers were wondering
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, we have Jaime, the Mountain, and Loras....it's not a full bracket.
Entertained Organizer:
true, because they get interupted
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah.
Race for the Iron Throne:
So your pick is Jaime?
Entertained Organizer:
of the three
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think the Mountain takes it simply by outlasting the others
Entertained Organizer:
anyway, wolf attack
Race for the Iron Throne:
One thing first. Apparently some people were pissed off about common soldiers knowing about Loras and Renly.
Entertained Organizer:
really?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yah.
Entertained Organizer:
I just figured it was a propaganda war
Race for the Iron Throne:
Exactly. Stannis tried to delegitimize Joffrey, the Lannisters tried to make him look like a cuckold, so why wouldn't they play the gay card?
Entertained Organizer:
Exactly, and just a little later in the episode we have Joffrey spreading the rumor that the North's army are cannibals
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, we know from last season that they have a real Karl Rove attitude to history.
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, I think it's just called "humanity has done this stuff since the dawn of time, why would Westeros be any different" (also I don't like giving Rove credit for things)
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah. So first we get a beautiful fart joke/fakeout.
Entertained Organizer:
did anyone not actually see the fake fakeout coming?
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. However, I thought the humor was badly needed in what was a pretty bleak episode even by Game of Thrones standards,
Entertained Organizer:
fair enough, and then we have the aftermath of the battle
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which is the Battle of Oxcross, fyi.
Entertained Organizer:
it's not often you see someone's leg get sawed off even on pay cable
Race for the Iron Throne:
And we meet Roose Bolton. Who's already a soulless ice machine of pragmatism. "A naked man holds few secrets, a flayed man holds none."
Entertained Organizer:
I think he's an excellent addition, makes sure you know that no side in this war is without it's demons
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, but what we get with Bolton is the banality of evil in an episode with a lot of cartoonish psychopaths. What makes Roose terrifying is that he really doesn't care. Skinning people alive is like filing to him. Possibly alphabetizing.
Entertained Organizer:
did we mention that the episode gets darker from here?
Race for the Iron Throne:
We do get a meet-cute girl over a gangrenous limb, that's kind of light, right? Right? Bueller?
Entertained Organizer:
Haha, and we have a new standard bearer for team smallfolk
Race for the Iron Throne:
Stumpy or "Talissa from Volantis"?
Entertained Organizer:
Talissa, stumpy probably can't march and wave a banner anymore. I think she's the first person to point out that the soldiers who are fighting and dying have basically no connection at all to the reasons for the war
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which is true, although I'd point out that doesn't stop them from creating reasons of their own...like we see later. So Robb is intrigued despite getting the medieval equivalent of a fake number. And now we move into Sexualized Torture Scene #1.
Entertained Organizer:
it is troubling that we have to number them
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm just saying, Joffrey is looking more and more Westeros' best argument for unlimited contraceptives...
Entertained Organizer:
once again though, Tyrion ends up stealing the scene for me
Race for the Iron Throne:
As the one human being in the room with moral decency.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm actually going to add the Hound to that list, it's true he didn't stop the torture from happening, but literally the second that Tyrion did, he was giving Sansa his cloak
Race for the Iron Throne:
Right, but it's after the fact morality.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, but if he had done anything before that moment he literally would have been killed and then Sansa would get it even worse
Race for the Iron Throne:
Killed by who? Meryn Trant? The Hound is the most dangerous man in that room, bar none.
Entertained Organizer:
if he had interrupted Joffrey's fun, it was a death sentence. Maybe he can kill everyone in the room, but he can't kill every guard in the Red Keep
Race for the Iron Throne:
He doesn't have to. Just put a sword under Joffrey's chin. All Hail King Sandor, First of His Name!
Entertained Organizer:
and then you have Tywin gunning for you
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. But I don't think Tywin's that invested in Joffrey. Tommen is easier to work with.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't think he is at all, but just as last season Tyrion was the least of the Lannisters, Joffrey is family, and you don't mess with Tywin's family
Race for the Iron Throne:
*except with Tywin's permission. By the way, how sad is it that Cersei is dressing Lancel as a cut-rate Jaime Lannister.
Entertained Organizer:
there's definitely something weird and worth exploring there
Race for the Iron Throne:
You are right that Tyrion seriously takes over the scene. Reminding him of previous Lannister policy re the inviolability of kings.
Entertained Organizer:
he also gets the best line of the episode: "That was a threat.  See the difference."
Race for the Iron Throne:
I think Tyrion getting the best line goes without saying.
Entertained Organizer:
and yet that's not the best acting Dinklage did in the scene, that goes to the look on his face as Sansa walks out of the room after playing the game. Sad pride.
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And FORESHADOWING. So Bronn and Tyrion have a pow-wow and come up with their worst idea ever. They should have gone with their original diagnosis.
Entertained Organizer:
I think worst idea ever might be strong. I mean hiring prostitutes is never the best plan
Race for the Iron Throne:
Worst idea they've had. Specifically. Most of their ideas have been brilliant. This, not so much.
Entertained Organizer:
but they have limited options and he is a really highstrung teenage boy
Race for the Iron Throne:
"Oh, no, the king's fallen ill! The regent will be overseeing things today." For god's sake, Britain functioned with at least one mad king, and that was for twenty-odd years.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, but we've already established that Tyrion is the one guy in the room with any morality, killing his nephew is never going to be option 1
Race for the Iron Throne:
My point is, imprisoning the king works fine. It's a tried and proven technique for dealing with inconvenient royalty.
Entertained Organizer:
maybe, I'm just saying getting the kid laid seems like a simpler plan to try first
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm just saying, at the very least, who the hell let him get his hands on a crossbow?
Entertained Organizer:
the King orders a guard to give him a crossbow, the King gets a crossbow
Race for the Iron Throne:
"We lost the key to the arsenal." And that's not just any crossbow. It's gold-encrusted. Someone gave him to that of their own volition.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, you're starting with this weird assumption that the guards are going to stand up to Joffrey for the hell of it: "we lost the key to the arsenal" "I will execute you for your incompetence then"
Race for the Iron Throne:
Again, the regent has the power here. Joffrey is basically an ornament until people decide otherwise.
Entertained Organizer:
maybe that's the way it's supposed to be, but it's very clearly not the case or Ned would be chilling with Jon at the Wall
Race for the Iron Throne:
It's not the case because Cersei has no idea what she's doing. Again, there's a huge amount of precedent on how to deal with child monarchs and regencies.
Entertained Organizer:
then I think we just have to chalk it up as Cersei being a terrible mother. And now we move to the scene where I think you have to start feeling bad for Roz
Race for the Iron Throne:
The whole scene actually pushed past my limits.
Entertained Organizer:
hahaha, you just have a bizarre hatred of everyone's favorite prostitute (can you say spinoff)
Race for the Iron Throne:
I do feel bad for Ros. But this scene was wholly unnecessary.
Entertained Organizer:
I'm actually going to mildly defend it. It was excessive, but it really showed just how messed up Joffrey is in a way that the previous scene didn't
Race for the Iron Throne:
He was trying to strip his wife and have her beaten with the flat of a sword. We already got, he's got sexualized violence issues, and he's a coward who tortures via proxy.
Entertained Organizer:
yes Joffrey was a sadist towards Sansa, but the explanation for it was that he'd just found out about a military defeat and was taking it out on her, as well as displaying his power to the lords
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, but he had her stripped for a reason.
Entertained Organizer:
it's still really messed up but he had "reasons" for it, this was entirely unprovoked and unseen. This is who Joffrey is in his private moments, and it's terrifying
Race for the Iron Throne:
I just think everyone already understands that Joffrey is mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
Entertained Organizer:
which is why my defense is only mild
Race for the Iron Throne:
Ok, now we get two new scenes that I actually like. Renly being a snappy queen to Littlefinger, Littlefinger making a very sensible offer. And then him and Margaery being spicy together.
Entertained Organizer:
while I loved it, I'm not sure I understand what Littlefinger's motivation was in that scene with Margaery
Race for the Iron Throne:
Trying to feel out how canny this woman was, in case she needs to remarry in a hurry.
Entertained Organizer:
Hmmm. ok, I'll buy that
Race for the Iron Throne:
But I really liked his offer to Renly, because that was an innovation that really felt like something Littlefinger would have done.
Entertained Organizer:
scheming self serving Littlefinger is the best Littlefinger
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now Dany's storyline finally starts to move.
Entertained Organizer:
we meet Daenery's new favoritest blood rider, since that other guy had to be written out of the show
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the third guy....Who knows?
Entertained Organizer:
I like to assume he's out there with Syrio having adventures
Race for the Iron Throne:
The Garden of Bones thing was a spooky innovation. And we go from spooky to spooky with HARRENHAL, "the happiest place in Westeros!" Aka, the Medieval equivalent of the Ministry of Love.
Entertained Organizer:
I actually found Arya reciting her list more chilling
Race for the Iron Throne:
Again, let's not get ahead of ourselves. First we get an amazing establishing shot. And for the UMPTH time, we get "all the dragons are dead!"
Entertained Organizer:
well as far as Westeros is concerned they are
Race for the Iron Throne:
And then we get a great "ascended extra," just staring down the camera with empty eyes. I also liked the prayer - and the way it evolved throughout the episode. So now we get Catelyn and Littlefinger, and I really wished she had stabbed him.
Entertained Organizer:
that would be sad. We'd get no more Littlefinger
Race for the Iron Throne:
And again, despite people's complaints - this is Littlefinger and Catelyn; she's the one woman he can't control himself around. Of course he's going to make his offer then, how could he stop himself?
Entertained Organizer:
wait people had a problem with that?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Some people have this idea that Littlefinger is a perfect chessmaster.
Entertained Organizer:
the guy is crazy “get her husband killed and maneuver the entire kingdom into giving him a second shot” obsessed with her
Race for the Iron Throne:
I thought moving Ned Stark's bone to here made sense.
Entertained Organizer:
it did and it shows how little control Cersei has now, she expressly forbade it last episode, and yet here it is
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, she's busy with Lancel. The name of the game is to just do it before she can do anything about it.
Entertained Organizer:
True, it's still going to be fun when she finds out
Race for the Iron Throne:
So...Harrenhal, the Mountain, and the Tickler. What did you think of the new Mountain?
Entertained Organizer:
he's not as massive but it's not like the old Mountain got a huge amount of screen time to grow attached to him
Race for the Iron Throne:
They were very memorable moments.
Entertained Organizer:
true
Race for the Iron Throne:
A horse died.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, but it's HBO , that's practically a requirement
Race for the Iron Throne:
I thought he was ill-served by his costume.
Entertained Organizer:
they could have made him bulkier
Race for the Iron Throne:
The standard Lannister helmet didn't work. And he needed the bulk.
Entertained Organizer:
and stood him next to someone, the new actor is like 7 feet tall
Race for the Iron Throne:
He is tall enough, but I think he doesn't have the shoulders.
Entertained Organizer:
well maybe he'll grow on us. I felt bad for Hot Pie
Race for the Iron Throne:
Do not look at him, do not look at him in the eyes!
Race for the Iron Throne:
I want someone to do a screen-caption of that.

Race for the Iron Throne:
So now we get the Tickler. Who is not Polliver. Polliver's the dumb one with the sword. The Tickler is the other banality of evil dude eating a pear.
Entertained Organizer:
I don't know how banal he is
Race for the Iron Throne:
I would not be surprised to run into him working at a midlevel retail joint. As opposed to say, Rorge or Biter. "Welcome to Staples! How may I rape your bunghole bloody"
Entertained Organizer:
he kept going after that guy broke
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but I think that's just him refining technique. Like the Man With Six Fingers in Princess Bride. I was so relieved when he asked "who among you helped the Brotherhood"
Entertained Organizer:
I still can't get over the rat thing, that's terrifying
Race for the Iron Throne:
And from real life.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, which makes it worse
Race for the Iron Throne:
And yet another trauma for Arya to deal with. That kid isn't doing well this episode.
Entertained Organizer:
she pretty much has no chance of turning out normal
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah, but she's at least going to be more functional than Rickon. And she's more proactive than Sansa.
Entertained Organizer:
Sansa is in a very different situation and is learning to play the game
Race for the Iron Throne:
So is Arya, but at least she makes moves.
Entertained Organizer:
now we have brother bonding time!
Race for the Iron Throne:
With the least loving brothers since Cain and Abel. This scene was my favorite in the episode and it was closest to the book.
Entertained Organizer:
it turns out that Renly was Master of Law, which we couldn't remember last week
Race for the Iron Throne:
Are you saying I forgot something?
Entertained Organizer:
haha, that doesn't sound right does it? But I couldn't remember it and you didn't tell me so that's basically the same
Race for the Iron Throne:
Anyway...what did you think of this scene?
Entertained Organizer:
it was good
Race for the Iron Throne:
I missed the peach, but otherwise I really liked it.
Entertained Organizer:
Renly giving his brother credit for not being a true religious fanatic was probably my favorite highlight
Race for the Iron Throne:
And the great line about "Born in salt and smoke? Is he a ham?"
Entertained Organizer:
poor Stannis, nobody likes him
Race for the Iron Throne:
There's a great line they left out from the book.
Entertained Organizer:
?
Race for the Iron Throne:
"They will not love me, you say? When have they ever loved me? How can I lose something I have never owned." It's from the prologue. And it really sums up Stannis.
Entertained Organizer:
I also want to just say the Starks picked the right brother, this scene makes it clear there's no way Stannis would accept any "King of the North" nonsense
Race for the Iron Throne:
Which Stark? Ned picked Stannis.
Entertained Organizer:
Living: Robb and Cat
Race for the Iron Throne:
He did say at least in the books that if Robb bent the knee, he wouldn't consider him an enemy anymore. Robb and Cat made the most pragmatic decision at the time, but Stannis has the voodoo. I'm a big Stannis fan, if you couldn't tell.
Entertained Organizer:
haha, and you hide it so well
Entertained Organizer:
Qarth? what'd you think?
Race for the Iron Throne:
I thought the city looked great, the Spike King was a sassy rude bastard, but the writing was really off. I INVOKE SUMAI! Wha?
Entertained Organizer:
Hahaha, I like SUMA. This is a brand new culture we haven't met yet and they just throw us in the deep end
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah, but that was just a bad Star Trek moment.
Entertained Organizer:
but he sold it with such hilarious conviction
Race for the Iron Throne:
I did like Xharo Xoan Daxos. I noticed Pyat Pree in the background. No Quaithe yet tho.
Entertained Organizer:
I hadn't realized just how small Dany's "horde" was
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yeah. Which I thought was a bit of an injoke about last season. With the tiny Dothraki horde.
Entertained Organizer:
they just looked so pathetic walking through the gates
Race for the Iron Throne:
As they ought to be. It's her lowest moment.
Entertained Organizer:
and now Tywin saves Gendry and is the only other person to realize Arya's a girl
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. And for absolutely amoral reasons. He's just a good HR executive.
Entertained Organizer:
it really would be a waste of resources to execute them
Race for the Iron Throne:
I did like Arya eyeing the sword and almost going for it.
Entertained Organizer:
and now Arya is cup holder to Tywin Lannister
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes, which is a bit of a change, but a good one. And the great parallel between Tywin and Tyrion this episode in that they both rescue a Stark girl for pragmatic reasons.
Entertained Organizer:
though Tywin does it unknowingly
Race for the Iron Throne:
True. And now Tyrion breaks Lancel in five seconds flat. It was almost unsporting.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, the poor kid never even had a chance even though I'm pretty sure Tyrion was just guessing
Race for the Iron Throne:
Nah, he just is a great judge of character.
Entertained Organizer:
well ya, that's more what I meant, he had no actual evidence beyond his read of the situation
Race for the Iron Throne:
And he could tell from the clothing and the smell.
Entertained Organizer:
basically Tyrion is Batman
Race for the Iron Throne:
Well, the kid is dressed like Jaime, smells like Cersei, and is doing her bidding late at night.
Entertained Organizer:
it is a pretty strong circumstantial case and poor Lancel isn't even smart enough to try to deny it
Race for the Iron Throne:
And let's face it, Sansa could have broken Lancel.
Entertained Organizer:
I think "Tywin told me to" was my favorite defense
Race for the Iron Throne:
So now Tyrion has a spy in her camp.
Entertained Organizer:
though you have to wonder how long Lancel can actually pull off being a double agent, I mean guile isn't exactly his strong point
Race for the Iron Throne:
He's pretty disposable tho. It's not like Tyrion can't afford to lose him.
Entertained Organizer:
true
Race for the Iron Throne:
And now we're on to the BIG SHOW. A great scene between Davos and Melisandre, very much informed by the offscreen relationship between Cunningham and Van Houten. they're friends, fyi.
Entertained Organizer:
did not know that
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yah, they played husband and wife in a movie last year. And it's very funny to see her fucking with him and him snarking back at her. A great dialogue about good and evil, straight from the book. Which I have to say, makes me feel ambivalent about the screenwriter this week.
Entertained Organizer:
why?
Race for the Iron Throne:
In that the best things were the things she didn't write. But maybe that's a sign of a good adaptation?
Entertained Organizer:
ok, but in an adaptation, a lot of it is knowing what to keep
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm just really hating on that SUMAI thing.
Entertained Organizer:
if the source material is great, it would just be ego to change it just because
Race for the Iron Throne:
True, but we've had some amazing innovations.
Entertained Organizer:
Leonard Nemoy could have pulled it off
Race for the Iron Throne:
Last episode, for example. The bit between Arya and Yoren.
Entertained Organizer:
ya, I just won't judge someone harshly for letting ego go and using the source if it works
Race for the Iron Throne:
Agreed.
Race for the Iron Throne:
Next week should be goo-oood.
Entertained Organizer:
ok, we are not allowed to end without saying how awesome Shadow Baby was
Race for the Iron Throne:
Yes. The way that belly was pulsing. Gave me a feeling of abhorrence. As if something fundamentally wrong is happening here.
Entertained Organizer:
and the thing looked terrifying and really good for whatever the budget was
Race for the Iron Throne:
I'm really curious to know how much that cost, because CGI can be very cost-effective or -intensive. A few more things. The sudden gushing, like a miscarriage of smoke. Then that HAND. GAAAAAH! Then it stands up. And Davos is just cowering in the corner, completely unable to process what's going on.
Entertained Organizer:
Davos is a very grounded man and now there is a shadow baby. An ordinary man suddenly confronting the completely extraordinary. The fact he didn't have a stroke and or run away screaming speaks volumes
Race for the Iron Throne:
The pulsing lantern was very good. Gave us more of that light = shadow thing. And I liked that they emphasized that in Melisandre's eyes, she's a hero.
Entertained Organizer:
also flickering light has been a pretty strong theme with her and the use of her power
Race for the Iron Throne:
Indeed.
Entertained Organizer:
do you have anything else?
Race for the Iron Throne:
Nope.
Entertained Organizer:
we do have one last thing
Race for the Iron Throne:
The winner?
Entertained Organizer:
yep
Race for the Iron Throne:
Let's see it.
Entertained Organizer:
“I'm no good at jokes, but to be a classic, it should obviously begin with 'In Soviet Russia-" and continue in the vein of "you don't torture child, child torture you"”
Race for the Iron Throne:
That is certainly a timeworn routine.
Entertained Organizer:
unfortunately for poor "Anonymous" they did not leave their email address as the rules of the contest required, and so since I don't want to deal with 50 people all claiming to be anonymous:

"It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!"

1 comment:

  1. Finally a reasonable voice addressing the Littlefinger complaints.

    ReplyDelete