Posts Tagged ‘Game Of Thrones’
For the first post back, I’m taking a look at the first all-new series of 2015, ABC’s Galavant, which is a show that took me somewhat by surprise because the advance word didn’t seem to be overwhelmingly positive. In addition, ABC’s strategy of double-pumping it over four weeks had the odor of burn-off. Added together, I was very wary going in, but I ended up being mildly shocked by just how much I enjoyed it.
Galavant stars the relatively unknown Joshua Sasse (Rogue, The Neighbors) as the titular Galavant, a knight suffers his love Madalena (Australian model Mallory Jansen) being taken from him by the effete and evil King Richard (a never-better Timothy Omundson from Deadwood and Psych). Galavant is later enlisted by the *deep breath* Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia (Strike Back’s Karen David) as her champion in a conflict with Richard, piquing his interest with word of how much Madalena claims to miss him. As the seconds to Galavant and Richard respectively, Luke Youngblood (Magnitude from Community – POP POP!!) and Vinnie Jones (various Guy Ritchie films) round out the cast.
Surprisingly, Galavant offers higher than average laughs in its first two episodes, mostly as a result of its Alan Menken-penned Flight Of The Conchords-esque songs that the characters use to flesh out the storylines. Additionally, a medieval musical comedy is rather unique for television right now, so it has its own niche to carve out in forms the comedy counterpart of sorts to similar (albeit non-musical) on-trend dramas like Game Of Thrones, Reign, and Outlander. My sense was that the premiere had a little more steam than the second episode did, largely because of the problems I had with what seemed like a miscast John Stamos’ performance as Galavant rival Sir Jean Hamm (unfortunately, that was actually the character’s name) in the second installment. Future episodes promise guest stars like Rutger Hauer, Anthony Stewart Head, and Ricky Gervais (!!), so hopefully they fare better than the admittedly game Stamos did.
Ultimately, you could do a lot worse than spending three or so hours with Galavant over the next month, though there may be more than that to come in the future since it did a surprising aggregate of 7.34 million viewers its first time out on Sunday. Though it’s not perfect, I do think that Galavant is beginning to charm me.
Episode 1.01/1.02 Grade: B
Top Lines Presented Out of Context:
“And tonight, you will join me in my bed. And we will do it!!”
“(Singing) And so what if you have that pesky little muffin top?” “Wait… what?”
“Holy shit I’m out of shape. That was a long song.”
TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.07 – “A Man Without Honor” – Original Airdate: 5/13/12
Episode Grade: B
As much as it pains me to say this, at essentially the three-quarter pole mark of Game Of Thrones’ second season it might be time to face the fact that this sophomore set of episodes has been a bit of a disappointment. After the zeitgeist-grabbing nature of its offseason where it essentially became the face of HBO and was front-and-center with HBO’s efforts to brand its HBO GO service as a Netflix competitor, it probably hasn’t reached my (and I’m sure some other viewers’) expectations. Sure, it’s still better than most of what’s on television or has been on television in 2012. But unless it pulls out something mind-blowing in its final three episodes of the season, it’s gonna fall short of what I know it’s capable of. And that’s the mark of a disappointment, even if a slight one. The season has been progressing along in fits and starts, something evidenced by its last three episodes. “The Ghost Of Harrenhal,” as I’ve said, was the worst episode in the show’s run yet, but then it bounced back with “The Old Gods And The New.” That’s why it’s disheartening to see it follow up a relatively strong installment like that with “A Man Without Honor.” Let’s dive a little deeper into why this one left me a little cold:
- Qarth. Probably my number one problem with this second set of ten episodes is whatever the hell is going on in Daenerys’ orbit this season, and this Qarth nonsense is literally the worst. I care about none of it. Zero. It’s officially become pee-break time whenever this crap comes on screen. It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s so far removed from everything else this season that it’s utterly unclear what purpose it serves in the overall narrative of the show. One of Daenerys’ servants is killed. Whatever. The character wasn’t developed at all so I don’t care at all. Daenerys is broken up over leading her people to slaughter, saying, “I led my people out of the red waste and into the slaughterhouse.” Again, I don’t care about any of these people so I don’t care about their fates. She also upbraids Jorah for being “too familiar” but then enlists his help when one (of the many) Qarthian weirdoes kidnaps her dragons. Oh… and there’s some weird lady with a tiled face painting a naked guy  who hints at some kind of betrayal by Jorah. Seriously – whatever. I don’t care about any of this in the slightest and it’s a complete drain on the season. Any time spent on this storyline is wasted. It’s really as simple as that.
- Theon’s gambit at the end of the episode was a little flat. I mean, we’re supposed to feel the impact of Theon’s decision to use Bran and Rickon’s deaths as a warning sign to the rest of Winterfell… only it’s blatantly obvious that it’s not them. We never saw the deaths happen and the bodies are burned beyond recognition, so TV 101 tells us that there’s absolutely no way that those sadly dead kids are the youngest Starks. It’s kind of similar when other shows  put one of their lead characters in danger. You know there’s no way that the show’s actually going to off them, so the tension is false. Same applies here. I mean, I dig the work that Alfie Allen is doing as Theon this year because he’s doing a great job of conveying just how over his head Theon is, as well as playing the internal conflict that Theon feels in siding with his biological family over his surrogate one. But this supposed impact of the Starks’ “deaths” just didn’t have the heft that I think the show was hoping for.
- Talisa’s still hanging around Robb and, while I generally like what both Oona Castilla and Richard Madden are doing with their material here, move things ahead already. We know where this is going. Just get there.
- No Tyrion on screen until 46 minutes into the episode. Unacceptable.
- “A Man Without Honor” was also the first time that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been used since the season premiere. Almost as unacceptable.
This may seem to be a bit of unfair criticism because – as I’ll address in the Miscellany – there was still plenty to like in “A Man Without Honor.” It’s just that with a show whose potential is as limitless as GoT is, it’s frustrating to see the show coast at times, while also continuing to waste screentime on things that aren’t working. Three episodes left to right things and prove that season two isn’t going to stand as a disappointment.
 Really. This is some American Horror Story-level bullshit.
 I’m excepting GoT somewhat from this upcoming example because… “Baelor.”
*As I mentioned, this is the first time we’ve seen Jaime Lannister since the first episode of the season, “The North Remembers.” And Coster-Waldau shows just how underutilized he is with almost every moment he’s on screen. He uses one of his cousins – a man who hero-worships Jaime in no small measure – as a distraction in order to escape from the Stark camp, killing both the cousin and one of Robb’s soldiers in the process. He’s almost immediately recaptured, but still gets some shots in on Catelyn after she accuses him of being “a man without honor,” while seemingly confirming to her his less-than-toward relationship with his sister, Cersei: “You know, I’ve never been with any woman but Cersei so, in my own way, I have more honor than poor old dead Ned.” Seriously, GIVE THIS MAN MORE TO DO ALREADY.
*While I’ve bashed almost anything involving Daenerys almost all season, I’ve been equally as harsh to anything involving Jon Snow and his compatriots in the Night’s Watch. That’s why it’s nice to see the forward movement in that story thread, and a lot of that has to do with the introduction of Rose Leslie as Ygritte, the wildling woman who Jon’s obviously going to be ending up with in short order. She escapes his capture while giving him crap about the fact that he’s never, er… known a woman in the biblical sense, only to lead him directly into a trap where about a dozen of her compatriots are waiting. While still tethered to Jon and prior to the ambush, she seems to be hinting that she’s hoping to turn him against his brothers in the Watch, especially after he mentions that he’s Ned’s son and that the blood of her people runs through him. “So, why are you fighting us?” she questions. The chemistry between Leslie and Kit Harrington is well-played and this potentially flipping of Jon gives the character more shading than we’ve seen at any point this season. Almost gives me hope for the Dany/Qarth thread. Nah… it really doesn’t.
*Any and all scenes between Tywin and Arya continue to be season’s highlights.
*The Hound tells Sansa that he did what he did in “The Old Gods And The New” simply because he likes killing. So… there’s that.
*Some good stuff going on in King’s Landing as well with Sansa experiencing a seminal moment in her path towards womanhood, while simultaneously fearing that this may now mean that producing an heir for the execrable Joffrey could be on the near horizon. Cersei shows the first hint that she understands what a monster her son is by advising Sansa that the way to deal with Joffrey is to just focus all of her love on her children, as Cersei implies she did during her marriage to Robert Baratheon.
*Also? Shae’s a goddamn badass.
*”Oh, well that’s alright then. You let a half-wit escape with a cripple.”
*”Did you pull a knife on me in the night?”
*”I want the wounded men to be treated well. ALL the wounded men.”
*”There are no women of the Night’s Watch.” “So the lads just do it with each other, then?”
*”You’re too smart for your own good. Has anyone told you that?”
*”Brave? A dog doesn’t need courage to scare off rats.”
*”The more people you love, the weaker you are.”
*”Shouldn’t I love Joffrey, Your Grace?” “You can try.”
*”It’s hard to put a leash on a dog, once you put a crown on its head.”
*”Sometimes I wonder if this is the price for what we’ve done, for our sins.”
*”I don’t need trust any longer. I don’t want it and I don’t have any room for it.”
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  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  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 , 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 , 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 . 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.
 Namely Robb.
 And by displaying a better body than perhaps anyone had thought she actually had.
 Not in some kind of gross way, you perv.
 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.
 Not to mention grinding against his junk while they sleep.
*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.”
TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.05 – “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” – Original Airdate: 4/29/12
Episode Grade: B
100% honesty – this may have been my least favorite episode of either of Game Of Thrones’ two seasons to date. Other than the (BIG GIANT SPOILER ALERT)  very surprising death of Renly via Melisandre’s newly-birthed smoke monster , there really wasn’t much here that I cared about. Granted, the opening scene that saw Catelyn reassuring Renly that Robb has no interest in the Iron Throne and Renly proposing an arrangement with Robb that was much like the one his brother Robert had with Robb’s father Ned was well-constructed and Renly’s death literally came out of nowhere. It was a shot fired that made it seem like “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” was gonna be a balls-out crazy installment of GoT but, instead, it pretty much petered out from there. Daenerys being proposed to by one of the fucking weirdoes in Qarth? Don’t really care. More nonsense with the greatly-removed Night Watch storyline? Don’t really care. Brienne and Catelyn forging an alliance of sorts? Slightly more interesting, but not very. Coming on the heels of the season’s two strongest episodes, “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” was more than a little bit of a letdown even as the material with Tyrion  and Arya continues to be very strong. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries on GoT, I have immense faith in the abilities of showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to tie together the (for now) less essential elements of the show by season’s end but to this point the second season has been a bit of a grab bag where the Tyrion/Robb/Arya/Renly/Theon material is working well, but everything involving Stannis/Dany/Jon is either coming off limply or not at all. Specifically, the Dany and Night Watch storylines are so far removed from the overall story of the season that they’re a slog to get through at this stage. “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” marks the season’s halfway point so there are only five episodes left to bring the season’s narrative to a satisfying conclusion, but episodes like “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” are going to have to be few and far between in order for that to happen.
 And, really, if you haven’t seen the episode you probably shouldn’t be reading this in the first place. You know how this works by now.
 Who Brienne interestingly mentioned looked a lot like Stannis himself.
 Peter Dinklage (rightfully) won an Emmy for his work in season one but good lord… the guy’s on another level this year and will have a strong, strong case for Best Actor in a Drama if HBO chooses to enter him into consideration for a lead role.
*And even as I spent much of the above paragraph talking about how much I disliked the episode, there were still definitely some high points. We’ve already touched on Renly’s death, which was shocking and effective. In my surprise over his death, I hadn’t considered that not only would his death remove one of Stannis’s key rivals for the throne from the equation, but it also exponentially increased his manpower as the vast majority of Renly’s troops defected to Stannis’s side. I like how the show paints collecting troops as an arms race in the coming war and Renly’s death and subsequent movement of his troops to his brother’s employ certainly qualifies as this. Ultimately, I’m sticking with a “B” grade mainly on the strength of the impact of Renly’s demise, but I don’t feel particularly great about that grade.
*The intent of the conversation between Stannis and Davos where Stannis puts Davos in charge of their offensive, despite Davos’s protests that he’s not as qualified as others, probably could have been presented a little more clearly. Was there a subtext there that Davos has convinced Stannis that Melisandre is dangerous? Because, if so, that’s kind of odd coming after she essentially delivered Renly’s troops to him. And, if they are turning against her and cutting her out, is this the type of woman you want to mess around with? This could end with yet another dead Baratheon.
*Yet more lack of clarity: Theon meets his crew and, in trying to assert his authority, runs afoul of a crew member who basically tells him that he could do Theon’s job very easily and that Theon should watch his back. Left essentially holding his junk in his hand on the docks after the crew departs, Theon is joined by his first mate who’s a bit more sympathetic to his cause and who suggests that Theon needs to prove himself to the crew before they’ll respect him. To that end, he offers up a plan to… do something. Again, not entirely clear but I think that was the jist of the exchange. I’d assume that it has something to do with striking at Robb ahead of time but this probably could have been presented a little more strongly.
*Tyrion’s surprised dismay at being labeled a “demon monkey” by a deranged ranter on the street was the height of hilarity.
*Maisie Williams continues to turn in incredibly strong work as Arya, sparring both with Tywin over her identity and with one of the prisoners who she freed in “What Is Dead May Never Die.” The development with the prisoner is particularly interesting because he informs her that he is in her debt for releasing him and his repayment plan involves killing any three people of her choosing. She starts off by suggesting the torturer from “Garden Of Bones,” and by episode’s end, the torturer is dead, raising the question: What does this do long-term for Arya and her mental state now that she knows she has the power to take life away?
*What’s with the references to wildfire? This must be significant, yes?
*Yo… those people in Qarth (Qarthians?) are fucking weirdoes.
*”Negotiate with Stannis? I’d have better luck debating the wind.”
*”Calling yourself a king doesn’t make you one and if Renly wasn’t a king, I wasn’t a queen.” “Do you want to be a queen, my grace?” “I don’t want to be a queen. I want to be THE queen.”
*”Aren’t you always so clever with your schemes and your plots.” “Schemes and plots are the same thing.”
*”Enough. Even torturing you is boring.”
*”Are we surprised when the fruit of their incest is rotten? A rotten king!” “It’s hard to argue with him.”
*”I remember an old proverb: Piss on wildfire, and your cock burns off.”
TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.04 – “Garden Of Bones” – Original Airdate: 4/22/12
Episode Grade: A-
Alright… I have to start things off at the end and ask what in the actual fuck was that whatever that Melisandre birthed at the end of “Garden Of Bones?” I mean, shit… was it the Smoke Monster from Lost or something? Talk about your jarring (and disturbing) images to end an episode. Good God. OK… sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. To my mind, the theme of “Garden Of Bones” was ugliness. Ugliness in the quest for the throne. Ugliness in keeping the throne. Ugliness in the way people deal with one another. “Garden Of Bones” was just… ugly. And also very good. Let’s start with the most ugly  and work our way down from there. Not that there’s ever really been one, but there’s absolutely no question anymore – Joffrey NEEDS to die. His latest display of epic douchebaggery includes humiliating Sansa in front of the entire court by making her strip then, after Tyrion steps in to put a stop to it  and determines with Bronn that perhaps Joffrey just needs to get laid to vent some of his frustrations, Joffrey decides to make examples of the whores that Tyrion provides him with by making Ros (one of his “gifts”) beat the other whore nearly half to death while he watches. He also threatens Ros with the same beating if she doesn’t proceed and then deliver the “message” to his uncle. It’s clear that Joffrey, to this point, is the closest thing to the embodiment of pure evil on GoT and that whenever the day comes – and it will come – that he’s definitively dealt with, it’ll likely be my favorite point of the series. In other happenings at King’s Landing, Tyrion continues to teach a master class on political chess-playing and his adversary here is his own cousin, Lancel, who’s been sleeping with Cersei on the DL. Tyrion is well aware of this stomach-turning fact  and uses it to his advantage in making Lancel his latest stooge, blackmailing him by threatening to reveal his indiscretions to not only Jaime but to Tywin as well . Without question, one of my favorite developments of this new season is the increased importance placed on Tyrion’s character via his prominent position as an antagonist in Joffrey’s court. It’s been incredibly entertaining watching him work and, although he himself has pointed out that he’s not Ned Stark, he’s slid seamlessly into the lead position as the show’s (somewhat) moral center. How he reconciles those morals is sometimes within question – things sometimes get ugly – but they’re never not entertaining. Meanwhile, the ugliness of “Garden Of Bones” also permeates to the battlefield as brothers Stannis and Renly Baratheon have placed themselves into direct conflict with one another as each has plans to lay claim to their deceased brother Robert’s throne. After an unwelcome visit from Littlefinger  on behalf of Tyrion , Renly meets with his older brother feeling fairly confident in telling Stannis that he – not Stannis – will be the next Baratheon to ascend to the throne. Stannis attempts to strike an accord in which he offers the younger Baratheon a night to reconsider their conflict, saying that if Renly swears loyalty to him, he’ll grant Renly a place on his council and will name him his heir. Renly, unsurprisingly, is not enamored of Stannis’s proposal and roundly rejects it. Methinks we’re losing another Baratheon at some point this season. Renly’s rejection of Stannis’s terms later leads Stannis to confer with Davos and ultimately instruct him to spirit Melisandre away for an unknown purpose – unknown, that is, until she brings Smokey into the world. But we’ve already gone over that, haven’t we? Ugly all around, to be sure, but “Garden Of Bones” was ugly in all the right ways.
 Granted, we’ve already mentioned Smoke Monster Baby.
 While also attempting to provide Sansa with an out that she refuses to take.
 “Did Cersei have you knighted before or after she took you into her bed?”
 “Your father, when I was taken to be a squire, told me to obey her every command.” “Did he tell you to fuck her?”
 “I don’t like you, Lord Baelish. I don’t like your face. I don’t like the words that come oozing out of your mouth.”
 Who’s attempting to gather dirt on Renly, while also attempting to broker a deal with Catelyn – more on that in the Miscellany.
*Seriously… what the FUCK was that smoke thing? I mean, really?
*The reasons for Littlefinger’s appearance at Renly’s camp are twofold: First, being Littlefinger, he’s working an angle for personal gain by trying to gather dirt on Renly’s predilections by hinting to Margaery that he’s well aware that their marriage is not entirely… traditional. He’s also there to act as an emissary for Tyrion, informing Catelyn that the Lannisters are willing to strike a deal – the return of Sansa and Arya in exchange for Jaime. He also morbidly brings a box containing Ned’s bones to her as a show of Tyrion’s good faith. She responds that she’s not going to be taking the deal to Robb, even as Littlefinger responds about the girls, “I fear for their longevity if they remain in the capital.” Tyrion is proving to be quite the political player this season as I’d mentioned earlier, but the fact remains that he’s still surrounded in King’s Landing by vipers like Cersei and Littlefinger. He has his work cut out for him.
*The set piece when Arya and Gendry arrive in King’s Landing after being captured is quite literally breathtaking.
*Also? The method of torture used among prisoners in King’s Landing (of which Arya and Gendry are now two, despite Tywin showing up and taking an interest in Arya) is terrifying – interrogators place rats in a bucket, tie the bucket to the chest of those being interrogated, and heat the bucket so that the rats tear into captives’ chests. Inventive, and quite scary.
*Robb and that nurse on the battlefield are totally gonna meet again, right? Rob also seems to posses much of his father’s principals, forbidding his men to torture Lannister troops for fear of reprisal against Arya and Sansa.
*On the downside, I’m still nowhere near invested in anything going on with Daenerys this season. The dragons are only cool for so long. Eventually, there needs to be some interesting forward movement in the storyline. Being forbidden from entry into Qarth, apparently “the greatest city that ever was or will be” by some annoying dandy, only to then have some other mysterious man vouch for her ain’t really it.
*After supposedly lowbrow fart humor was used on the season premiere of the critically adored Mad Men, it makes its, er… presence known early on in “Garden Of Bones.” And yes, as someone who LOVES a good fart joke, I laughed a hearty laugh. As the brilliant Louis CK said during an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show a few months back, “You don’t have to be smart to laugh at a fart joke, but you have to be stupid not to.”
*”He’s been stabbing Renly Baratheon for years and he ain’t dead.”
*”You’re fighting to overthrow a king and you have no plan for what comes after?”
*”That was a threat. See the difference?”
*”You think dipping his wick will cure what ails him?” “There’s no cure for being a cunt.”
*”Born amongst salt and smoke? Are you a ham?”
*”A man without friends is a man without power.”
*”Did Cersei have you knighted before or after she took you into her bed?”
*”Your father, when I was taken to be a squire, told me to obey her every command.” “Did he tell you to fuck her?”
*”I could swear that I didn’t harm a single hair on his head but, strictly speaking, that would not be true.”
*”A man without friends is a man without power.”
*”Born amongst salt and smoke? Are you a ham?”
In a charming bit of serendipity, HBO announced yesterday that it’s renewed its two newest comedies, Girls and Veep. I say serendipitous because I just wrote about Girls on this very site yesterday. Lesson to TV producers – if I write about your show, you’ll get renewed. FACT. All kidding aside, both of these moves seemed to be no-brainers based on the strength of both shows’ early returns. Girls, as I wrote in my review yesterday, brings Lena Dunham’s unique voice to television and the show’s examination of twentysomething women in NYC struggling with the cusp of adulthood has the potential (if it’s not there already) to be an essential show. I’ll likely have something up on Veep in the next few days but suffice it to say, it might have been my favorite comedy pilot since perhaps Community back in 2009. Both of these shows absolutely deserved a renewal – which is pretty much a fait accompli with HBO series – and they, along with shows like Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire are helping to restore the HBO cache that had lost some luster in recent years.
TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.03 – “What Is Dead May Never Die” – Original Airdate: 4/15/12
Episode Grade: A-
One of the more prominent themes of Game Of Thrones’ second season has been power – who has it and who wants it. To that end, “What Is Dead May Never Die” examines how those who have power wield it and how those who want it go about trying to get it. Tyrion continues to settle into his role as Hand Of The King and, as he promised in “The Night Lands” is showing himself to be a much more deft political mover than the last person to hold his role, devising a clever plan to determine who in King’s Landing he can trust. He spins a tale to Maester Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger – changing details each time the story is told – about arranging a marriage for Cersei’s youngest daughter Myrcella that would be of military benefit in the upcoming war against Robb Stark. He specifically tells each man that Cersei cannot find out, knowing full well that the one(s) he can’t trust will report back to the Queen. And, indeed, it’s the elderly Pycelle who betrays him and Tyrion punishes him by not only having him thrown in jail, but also humiliating the man by having Bronn cut Pycelle’s beard off. The insult to injury is that all of this happens as Pycelle is in the company of, er… a professional woman who watches the entire scene playout. In the course of the plan’s execution, Littlefinger expresses his displeasure with being deceived but Tyrion lets him know that he has another plan for him – one that involves Littlefinger’s beloved Catelyn Stark. Watching a confident Tyrion operate in King’s Landing while flying in the faces of both Cersei and Joffrey has been one of the season’s biggest thrills to date. Between his dispatching of Lord Slynt from his position as commander of the City Watch in “The Night Lands” to his removal of Pycelle here, Tyrion is picking off any and all council members who are in things for themselves, while at the same time weakening the Joffrey/Cersei combo. His stature belies the power he now possesses, and he knows exactly how to exert it. While Tyrion is in possession of power, Theon Greyjoy and Renly Baratheon  are among those trying to seize power for themselves though both seem positioned to be on opposite sides of the battle. Theon’s return to his home on the Iron Islands isn’t necessarily going exactly as he’d planned after initially being sent as an emissary for Robb Stark. His father, Lord Balon Greyjoy, is not enamored of the idea of playing second fiddle to Robb and, to that end, forces Theon – his last remaining son – to choose between the family who raised him and the family whose blood he shares. He has a difficult time reconciling this choice, particularly when rightfully striking back at his father for abandoning him in the first place  while also noting that his sister, Yara, has lapped him in consideration of authority in the coming battle . In the end, Theon makes the difficult choice to throw his lot in with his own family, completely forsaking the Starks for an uncertain future. Another who believes he has claim to the throne and may end up pitted against family in the battle is Renly Baratheon. Catelyn, on behalf of Robb, visits Renly’s camp where he is now presiding over… something. He’s also engaged/married to a woman , Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer, The Tudors), whose own family has pledged themselves and their manpower to Renly’s cause in exchange for the power that Margaery’s placement as Queen would afford them. Renly seems amenable to joining forces with Robb, but we also learn that Margaery isn’t exactly the passive type of partner as she has designs on power of her own. After making Renly aware of the fact that she knows of his predilections , she also impresses upon him the wisdom of getting her pregnant in order to produce an heir as insurance against their enemies. I’d never seen Renly as that interesting of a character during his season one run but with the reboot, of sorts, of the character here as well as the introduction of Margaery, I’m much more invested in this storyline than I’d expected I would be. With all of the internal and external conflict on display in both Theon’s and Renly’s storylines, the differing approaches taken by Robb, Lord Balon, and Renly as it relates to taking power, as well as some more awesome chess-playing by Tyrion, “What Is Dead May Never Die” was easily the strongest of the nascent second season’s episodes.
 Making his first appearance since midway through the first season.
 “You gave me away! Your last boy! And now you curse me when I come home.”
 Lord Balon has decided to place Yara in control of 30 ships in the offensive while Theon gets a lone ship. Which will be used to attack fishermen. Quite the stark (haha – a pun) contrast.
 And knowing what we know about Renly to this point, that’s kind of surprising. That he’s carrying on clandestinely with her brother? Not as surprising.
 Upon attempting to “consummate” their relationship, she asks him, “Do you want my brother to come in and get you started? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Or, I could turn over and you could pretend I’m him.”
*One other storyline that deserves attention is Arya and Gendry’s capture by Joffrey’s soldiers. I’d speculated after their first appearance in “The Night Lands” that the soldiers would be back before too long, but I frankly didn’t expect it to be this soon. In the midst of their return, we lost Yoren, though in badass fashion as he continued to fight even after being plugged with an arrow from a crossbow. There was a bit of deft maneuvering by Arya, however, when one of the soldiers demanded to know which child was Gendry and she shifted his identity to another adolescent who had just been killed (in brutal fashion by a sword through the throat) by one of the guards. That seems to be only a temporary type of solution but I’m very interested to see where this storyline is headed.
*On the other hand, I’m still not sure where all of the nonsense with Jon, the Night Watch, and Craster (the incestuous creep) fits in with this season’s narrative. Thus far, I can’t help but feel that it’s been wasted time. Hopefully time will prove me to be wrong in that regard.
*Even with his various machinations proving to be successful thus far, Tyrion still recognizes that Shae is a potential Achilles heel and, to that end, secures a position for her as Sansa’s handmaiden. With the rapid pace at which he’s accumulating enemies, hiding her in plain sight for the time being would seem to be a wise decision.
*And perhaps Tyrion is fearful for good reason, considering what a heartless [INSERT INSULT HERE] his sister Cersei is, demonstrated by telling Sansa that even if Joffrey kills Robb – incidentally against the wishes of Cersei’s other son, Tommen – Sansa must still do her duty and marry Joffrey. I have to say, Cersei’s moving up the hitlist of people who I’d like to see die on this show.
*The title of the episode comes from some sort of pre-battle ritual that Theon completes after making his decision to fight with his family.
*When we see Renly for the first time in “What Is Dead May Never Die,” he’s enjoying a battle between two of his subjects – one of whom is his soon-to-be brother-in-law/current lover and the other is a rather monstrous woman named Brienne of Tarth who ultimately ends up winning and securing a place for herself on his Kingsguard. I sense that we’re going to be seeing more of her as the second season progresses.
*Good introduction of Natalie Dormer as Margaery. Ohai, boobs.
*”I saw something take that child.” “Whatever it was, I daresay you’ll see it again.”
*”A very small man can cast a very large shadow.”
*”When I take King’s Landing, I’ll bring you Joffrey’s head.”
*”If Robb Stark wants a pact with us, he should come himself. Not hide behind his mother’s skirt.”
*”The last time I saw you, you looked like a fat little boy.”
*”Every man who has tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am.”
*”Oh, thank the Gods. I haven’t had a proper shit in six days.”
*”Make no mistake — they’ll mount her pretty little head on a spike right beside yours.”
*”That’s a shame. You were to be the centerpiece of my next deception.”
*”Cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats.”
*”I always hated crossbows. They take too long to load.”