Some immediate thoughts about the most anticipated episode of season 2.
– It’s nice to know that Game of Thrones can actually do a battle that involves more than a mere handful of people. We didn’t get the chain and the battle was a bit dialed back, and it wasn’t the Battle on the Trident or even the Battle of the Blackwater that we might have been imagining, but I think they acquitted themselves quite well.
– The explosion of wildfire on the Blackwater was the right amount of reality and and computer generated magic. What I always loved about the books was how magic crept in, seeped in. It was never Gandalf and his staff. The magic has been there, but on the edges. So when the wildfire took on that eerie green hue, it fulfilled that quasi-magic quotient.
– Peter Dinklage owns this show. Tyrion’s growth from bon vivant in season 1 to leader of men in season 2 is in no way a surprise, but Dinklage has made it seem totally organic. His speech to the soliders in Kings Landing wasn’t poetry, but it struck to the heart of why the “smallfolk” will really fight. Not for the King who just ran back to his mother’s skirts at the first sign of real conflict, but for their own land and people and belongings. He doesn’t bother to pretend that Stannis and his men are cowards or incompetent, but recognizes them for their skills and for the danger they pose. The honesty in his rallying cry is inspiring – “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go and kill them.”
Even though I knew Tyrion wasn’t going to get out of the Battle of the Blackwater unscathed, it was shocking to see his face get sliced and god bless Pod who saved Tyrion’s ass. In the trailer for next week, when they call Tywin the hero of the Blackwater, I cringed inside, knowing how deep this will cut Tyrion, and how false it really is.
– While I do miss Arya and I’m curious to see how Jon is faring and I really want to see Theon continue to be his own worst enemy, I am happy that the show decided to stay at the battle. We did go between Cersei and all the other noble ladies cooped up in Maegor’s Holdfast and then back to the battle. This allowed us to see Cersei in all her drunken glory. Lena Headey is truly wonderful as Cersei and watching her slow descent this season has been a pleasure.
Losing Myrcella to Dorne, seeing Joffrey become an absolutely psychopath, missing Jamie, has all contributed to Cersei’s unsteadiness. She once again talks about how she should have been born a boy. The aspirations for noble women are as dire as they are for the poor ones in this world – life is just a bit more comfortable and you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.
Even her decision to kill Tommen when the tide of war seemed to be turning against the Lannisters is a way for her to try and take control in a world where she has very little real control. Sure she can terrorize Sansa and the other ladies or order around the servants, but she will never lead soliders or make the real governing decisions. And you just know that kills her.
– As this episode was written by George R. R. Martin himself, he gave us some absolutely fabulous character moments. The scene between Bronn and The Hound in the brothel was more than a mere pissing contest; these are two men who see themselves in the other but who serve men who are at odd with each other. What Joffrey asks of The Hound is so much more base than what Tyrion asks from Bronn…but both ask the other to kill and each sellsword complies.
We also get the scene with Sansa and Clegane in her room after Clegane had run from the front, really running from the fire. So much fire and so many horrifying memories for him. Sansa continues to represent something pure and innocent for him, even when he cannot help but terrify her and crush that innocence. Their scene in the book was one of my favorites in Clash of Kings, and both Rory McCann and Sophie Turner acted the hell out of that scene.
Will next week’s finale be as satisfying as the finale for season 1? I can hope, but there are a lot of loose ends to tie up so not sure if it will be as satisfying, which doesn’t mean it won’t be good.
A final plug for The National’s cover of “The Rains of Castamere”, the song the Lannister soldiers were singing in the brothel. Tywin seems to always ride in at the end and save the day, doesn’t he?