It seems that the writers and directors of the show have some sort of temporal rift through which they spy on me. I mentioned last week that Jason Momoa hasn’t had the chance to really act here and in this week’s episode he delivers. The first scene between Drogo and Daenerys is something I’ve been looking for since their wedding, where he shows a strong affection and tenderness for his wife. We should have seen this in the first episode, but this makes a fine offering. The scene where Drogo pledges to wage war on Westeros for the attempt on Daenerys’s life is almost word for word from the book, and Momoa gives the scene a primal fury that’s impressive.
Now, I’m a guy. You show me two girls making out and having fun, and I’m going to drop what I’m doing as my IQ plummets through lack of proper blood flow. So when I say the scene in the brothel did nothing for me, you know somebody did something wrong in the filming. Part of it was the fact that Littlefinger was talking as if he were doing a porn shoot, but then he goes on to a monologue that is, essentially, a dump of information that’s been given before if the viewer was paying attention.
If you haven’t been paying attention, then shame on you — you don’t deserve to watch subsequent seasons because this is going to get all kinds of complex.
I can’t help wondering if this scene was done for the “oh my gawd, there’s sex in this fantasy story” effect. It comes (no pun intended) about seven episodes too late. The scene with Cersei and Jamie? Yes, that’s shocking for several reasons. It’s also part of the original narrative and part of what gives both prose and screenplay a grittier “down to earth” sense — something not always typical of the genre. So it’s not a case of being prudish; when sex moves the plot along, I’m fine with it. If it’s coitus gratia coitus then we have a problem.
This episode marks the first time we see Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). It’s clear to see that he’s as smart and cunning as Tyrion and is determined to ensure the family line endures. He calls Jamie out for his stupidity and prepares for war with the Starks. You’re going to see more of this man when Season 2 gets under way. With that you’ll see just how intelligently he wields power, regardless of whether or not you like or agree with him.
Now a question for the readers: were you expecting things to go badly for Ned at the end of this episode? I can’t judge the predictability as I’ve read the book, but my take on it is this: Yes. Ned’s honor and obedience to the law is inflexible (Lawful Neutral for the gamers present). He knows the truth about Joffrey and feels compelled to do what is right by the law by trying to put Robert’s brother Stannis on the throne. Littlefinger knows that’s going to cause more trouble and tries to get Ned to assume the power as the King’s Hand, Protector of the Realm and Joffrey’s Regent. Ned balks at that, tells Littlefinger as such, and pretty much disses the man who, while not as honorable, has the right idea. So Ned going in thinking Littlefinger has his back is, to say the least, nuts but consistent with the character. You know what motivates both both of them, and in the screenplay it’s not as complex as the prose can be.
It still works, though, and things play out the same in both mediums. Ned is literally stunned when the Watch turns coat and wipes out the last of his household guard. The chaos of the moment is handled well and quickly, although we’re deprived of seeing just how dangerous Sandor Clegane is in a fight.
The scenes at the Wall play out mostly the same. Jon’s mad because he’s going to be the Lord Commander’s steward and not a Jedi Knight like his father a Ranger like his uncle Benjen. Sam’s spelling it out to him is equally consistent with the prose, and helps establish that while Jon may be more heroic, Samwell is more insightful.
So… has Ned Stark lost the game? Time will tell.