This review contains spoilers.
3.3 Walk of Punishment
On a show like Game of Thrones, you never know what’s going to happen or who is going to be a stand-out character. For example, in a group with Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod the squire, who would be most likely to be the most interesting character in the scene? Well, it wasn’t him, unless you said Pod. Ditto a scene with Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie. It’s a surprising gift from the show to take ancillary characters and turn them into people you root for, like, and even feel sorry for depending on who they are and their circumstances. I shouldn’t feel anything besides amusement towards Hot Pie, but here I am.
It’s interesting to see how the show is changing as the season goes on. The fortunes have been shifting, both north of and south of the wall. The men of the Night’s Watch are limping back towards the safety of Westeros, sniping at each other and searching for the comfort of Craster’s Keep and a warm fire. Things aren’t going well for them; things haven’t been going quite so well for Robb Stark, either. He’s been winning, but his uncle Edmure (Tobias Menzies) has somehow managed to screw up his plans and thus, Robb is not a happy king or having as much success against the Lannister host as he wants. (He’s also an abject failure at carrying out his father’s last wishes, leaving it up to the Blackfish – the brilliant Clive Russell – to do the job.) Oh yeah, there also seems to be tension between Dany and her two guardians, Barristan the Bold and Jorah the Andal. It’s a bit of a one-upsmanship between the two grizzled knights, with Barristan taking the noble route and Jorah taking the practical route (which seems proper for both characters).
You have to give credit to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The two have been running a very tight ship on the series, adapting one of the hardest series of books imaginable into a brilliant television series. They’ve written episodes, but never before have they taken the hot seat behind the camera as directors. As far as the IMDb knows, they’ve never directed anything before now, and for a debut, it’s actually pretty good. There are no major flaws with the episode; it jumps around as is Game of Thrones‘ wont, but the pacing is good. The pair also manage to film a very impressive horse chase, no mean feat for the inexperienced.
The show does jump around between characters and settings quite a bit, but unlike last season with Dany’s adventures in the Red Waste, this season seems to be willing not to spend time on characters who don’t have a lot of importance. I understand that Dany was a big part of the first season and you can’t just kind of abandon her for the second season simply because she’s not a huge part of the second book, but that was time in which we could have gotten more Tyrion as Hand of the King. This season, we seem to get just enough check-ins with certain characters, with others getting more episode time depending on their need and storyline. I may only get five minutes of Tyrion Lannister, but one scene of him at the Small Council meeting can still be the highlight of the night.
The only problem with getting small doses is that episodes can occasionally feel incomplete, or lacking a climax – that is not the case this week, but I digress. I would love to just immerse myself in one storyline for an episode (as with Blackwater last year) and not feel compelled to check in. Perhaps that will happen again this season, but so far we’ve been getting several teases and no real lingering in any place for longer than five minutes or so. If the show keeps this up, some folks may not be satisfied but the only problem I’m currently having with Game of Thrones is that the episode goes by too quickly and there are too many interesting things happening for one single hour of programming.
If only there weren’t a week between episodes and I could just consume them en masse like I did with the first season.
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