While I harbor no sympathy for assertions of quality for one work over another across media (i.e. “the book was better…“) and have zero tolerance for people who complain that an adaptation isn’t sufficiently representative of their personal experience with or perception of the source material (“wah wah wah, they cut this, they changed that“), I will freely admit that as someone who has read and loved the Ice and Fire book series, there is something extremely disconcerting about watching what was once an exceedingly faithful adaptation begin to diverge from the source text to such an extent that it fundamentally changes the experience of viewing the series. I don’t mean this as a total negative; it is exhilarating as well as disconcerting to know that in any given sequence one of my favorite characters I haven’t prepared myself to say goodbye to because they’re alive in the books might be killed off. This must be what the non-readers feel when watching Game of Thrones. Continue reading
Reek-it rhymes with week, which is about how long it took me to finish this episode because my six-month old puppy Fredo reacted and responded in kind and unceasingly to the dogs barking in the Winterfell kennel scene where Sansa is “reintroduced” to Theon/Reek. But when I could actually hear the soundtrack over little Fredo’s incessant barking, I really enjoyed this episode, especially the Winterfell content. I think Iwan Rheon gets Ramsay just right in the way that he’s threatening, odd, off-putting, and totally unhinged without being over the top and cartoonish. He goes right up to the line and stops exactly where he needs to.
Game of Thrones shares something with Lost in that every episode is required viewing for a follower of the show, not necessarily because of plot developments, but because of character. To be sure, each episode of Game of Thrones features plot developments, as was the case with most Lost episodes, but the heart of the series in both cases is the various ways those developments affect the characters. Plot is meaningless without character in any case, but especially on series like these with ensembles this extensive. My point here is that with shows like these, there are no throwaway episodes; every installment is compulsory viewing if one is going to follow and experience the show in the most optimal way possible. Continue reading
Game of Thrones has been so good for so long now that I routinely forget how poorly made this series could have easily been or could be in the hands of lesser showrunners or in the face of greater network opposition to structuring the narrative of the series as closely to the style of the books as they do. The fearlessness with which Benioff, Weiss, and the other writers continually expand the universe on screen is really astounding. The narrative of the series moves constantly and consistently; they may stay in one place for a time, so to speak, as in “Blackwater” or “The Watchers On The Wall,” but it’s only because that’s where they need to stay at that point in time to move the narrative forward. The narrative always moves forward unceasingly, leaving the viewer no time to mourn the deceased but somehow just enough time to reflect on what’s happened. Continue reading
Great athletes on the level of a Michael Jordan in his prime sometimes reach a point in their careers where they begin to dictate the terms of the competition; they’ve ascended to such a level of unprecedented greatness that the execution of their endeavor consists of them continually raising the bar they have set for themselves and their competition. I believe that from a narrative standpoint, Game of Thrones may have reached that level of greatness and proves it by continually raising the bar for what a series can do on television. It really cannot be overstated how spectacular an achievement it is to adapt and sharpen such a sprawling, complex narrative and juggle that many characters for a televisual format and manage to not be tedious, confusing, or even remotely boring. Continue reading
It was almost jarring to see them end a season on something other than a big “creature reveal.” That’s not a complaint-and not that there’s anything wrong with big creature reveals, because of course there isn’t. But I really like when seasons (or series, for that matter) end with a central character boarding a vessel or entering a vehicle and going somewhere. It’s a beautiful if obvious metaphor for consuming a serial narrative and also for characters during a “hiatus.” This ending reminded me of the ends of Freaks and Geeks and Six Feet Under, which left me with an unsettling feeling given that those two were series finales. I’m certainly glad I’m aware that Game of Thrones has already been renewed for at least two more seasons. Continue reading
I missed a week in terms posting, but that’s okay for our purposes here because the last two episodes make a really logical pair tonally and thematically, especially in terms of Tyrion’s arc. That brings me directly to Tyrion’s scene with Oberyn, which is now one of my favorite scenes of the series so far. Peter Dinklage is consistently great on the show and in his career in general, but he’s really great here, in my opinion, and for a specific reason. People are quick to rightfully praise things such as his speeches, witty retorts, and comic timing. I, however, believe the real brilliance in his performance is to be found in the way he listens and reacts. This is a particular skill he happens to share with Maisie Williams. Their reaction shots and the specific ways in which they listen on camera are continually astounding to me.
Weiss and Benioff earned their money on this one. This episode is a prime example of why you actually write the teleplays instead of just sitting there with the books cutting and pasting together an episode. Consider how much we as an audience gained from the “Craster’s Keep” deviation over the course of the last two episodes (so, credit to Bryan Cogman as well) and culminating in the climax of “First of His Name.” We have a wonderfully gory action sequence that provides a punctuation to an episode that despite its overall quality felt a bit stationary. Continue reading
Oaths were kept, masters were killed, and eyes were turned blue. This episode was unified thematically; every storyline this week featured someone who entered into some type of promise, vow, or binding agreement. The episode was in large part about the costs of keeping those oaths and the consequences of breaking them. Continue reading
The Purple Wedding did not disappoint. If I have a big complaint it would only be that the wedding sequence was so dominant in the episode that when I sat down to write this I had forgotten most of what happened in the run up. So, naturally, I’ll start from the back. Continue reading