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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “The Old Gods And The New”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.06 – “The Old Gods And The New” – Original Airdate: 5/6/12

Episode Grade: A-

That was encouraging. Coming off of “The Ghost Of Harrenhal,” quite possibly Game Of Thrones nadir to this point, “The Old Gods And The New” got things back on track in a big way. Beheadings. Riots. Joffrey being slapped in the face like the little twat that he is. Thank you, Vanessa Taylor (writer of this episode). I really needed this. In the interest of time, let’s just run down the list of all of the good shit bullet-point style:

  • THE RIOT. Finally, the people of King’s Landing start raising arms against King Little Shit by LITERALLY THREW SHIT IN JOFFREY’S FACE. And then Tyrion SLAPPED HIM ACROSS THE FACE. In case the caps weren’t a tip-off, I rather liked this sequence. In more bad-assery, during the riot someone (apologies that I’m unable to remember if it was one of Joffrey’s men or if it was just some random dude) got their arm ripped off. Tyrion’s concern during the melee was fixed not on Joffrey, but on Sansa who he later explained needs to be kept safe in order to prevent the Starks [1] from offing Jaime. His concern was well-placed since, during the melee, Sansa is snatched and taken into an alleyway and almost raped by a gang of scumbags before they are quite literally eviscerated by The Hound who, after Tyrion thanks him for his actions, tells him that he didn’t do it for him. Is he sweet on Sansa himself? Or is he a pragmatist who sees that he’s working for a maniac? Holy mother of God — this was an incredible sequence of events. The riot itself and its aftermath made up such a relatively small part of the episode, but it easily had the strongest impact of anything in “The Old Gods And The New.”
  • Playacting as a hardened soldier, Theon takes Winterfell by force in “The Old Gods And The New’s” opening sequence. He surprises Bran and still seems a bit torn over which side of the conflict he should be on. On the one hand, he was brought up as a de facto member of the Stark family and he’s now being forced to strike at people he still seemingly cares for. On the other hand, he’s power-hungry and has decided to throw his lot in with his actual family while clearly in the throes of a desperate need to be taken seriously by Balon, his father. To that end, he allows himself to be swayed towards ordering the death of Sir Rodrik – one of the Starks’ most loyal men – after Rodrik spits in his face in a public setting. Up until this point, the show had been doing a very good job of portraying the internal conflict that Theon felt by being pulled between his two worlds, making me wonder if perhaps Theon would end up ultimately spurning his Iron Islands family… but then Theon himself chopped Rodrik’s head off and that was that. “The Old Gods And The New” returned to Winterfell by episode’s end, when Osha one-upped Theon by seducing her way into his bed [2] in order to gain access to spirit Bran and Rickon (along with Hodor) away from the quagmire created by Theon’s coup. Saying that I doubt that Lord Balon is going to take kindly to that is probably a bit of an understatement. In all, the time at Winterfell in “The Old Gods And The New” was definitely well-spent.
  • Tywin seems to be taking a shine to Arya [3], which is easy to do with how precociously smart she is, making one wonder whether or not he’s going to start… I hate to use the phrase “using her council” but it definitely seems like he’s taken with her intelligence. However, lest we forget how tight of a rope Arya is walking by concealing her identity in the face of one of her family’s biggest enemies really is, “The Old Gods And The New” stages an incredibly tense scene when Littlefinger arrives in King’s Landing to debrief Tywin on the goings-on at Renly’s camp. Since we’re well aware that Littlefinger knows exactly who Arya is, it seems that it’s only a matter of time until he blows her cover during his discussion with Tywin. Every little look and every glance towards one another leads the viewer to wonder, “Is this it? Is she in trouble now?” It’s to the episode’s credit that it’s actually left ambiguous [4], opening up a whole host of other possibilities. However, one of Tywin’s soldiers does uncover her ulterior motives after he finds her reading a note she clandestinely snuck away from Tywin’s quarters, and makes a point of letting her know that he intends to blow up her spot. Her response? Engage Jaqen to kill the second of his promised victims, leading to a great scene where Tywin’s soldier makes it to Tywin’s door… only to fall flat on his face, dead, as soon as the door is opened.
  • Even the time spent with the Night’s Watch has a nice bit of forward movement. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t particularly enjoyed anything that’s been going on with Jon Snow and his fellow members of the Night’s Watch this season, so as soon as that storyline thread came up on screen I was less than enthused. However, they end up meeting Ygritte (Rose Leslie), a Wildling woman who informs them about the bounty that is on the head of one of its members. She’s ordered to be put to death by Jon’s hand and, in a nice contrast to the scene of Theon beheading Sir Rodrik earlier in the episode, Jon is unable to go through with the act, delineating yet another difference between the surrogate son and the bastard son of Ned Stark. As a result of his inability to kill her, Jon and Ygritte are separated from the rest of the Night’s Watch and she spends much of the rest of the episode taunting him and trying to get under his skin [5]. Anyone who’s watched television before can see that these two are developing some chemistry that’s going to lead to a union of some sort in short order, but I’m glad that we’re finally seeing some progress with this storyline after much fits and starts to this point.

You know that (admittedly crude) theory that states that every attractive girl is friends with an ugly one so that she looks better in comparison? “The Old Gods And The New” is the hot girl and “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” is the ugly chick. And Game Of Thrones? Only hot girls for the rest of the season, please.

[1] Namely Robb.
[2] And by displaying a better body than perhaps anyone had thought she actually had.
[3] Not in some kind of gross way, you perv.
[4] Though my money is on Littlefinger knowing. He’s too smart and devious to not hold that in his pocket to be used for exactly the right occasion.
[5] Not to mention grinding against his junk while they sleep.

Miscellany
*Even as I ran down the various positives of “The Old Gods And The New,” I must note that the Qarth crap continues to be awful. I really just don’t care at all and I’m afraid that this storyline is beyond saving. Something about the dandy saying that he realizes that Daenerys is there to steal his ship, but he makes her an offer anyway. She responds indignantly. Lather, rinse, repeat. I don’t care. This is a waste of time. Cut your losses, GoT.
*As expected, Robb runs into the battlefield nurse again, who this time is given a name (Lady Talisa). There’s no question she’s being set up to be his love interest. But what, if any, impact will this have on the war that’s on the horizon?
*Speaking of telegraphing, I’d wager that Cersei’s line to Tyrion about wanting him to love someone so that she can take her from him (spoken as Myrcella is being sent off) can only mean that she’s eventually going to find out about Shae and strike through her, yes?
*”Theon… did you hate us the whole time?”
*”Gods help you Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.”
*”We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know that we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot king.”
*”I’m just trying to get comfortable.”
*”Strike true and hard, Jon Snow. Or I’ll come back and haunt you.”
*”How can I call myself king if I can’t hold my own castle?”
*”What killed him?” “Loyalty.”
*”I always wondered what you had under there.”

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