Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Game of Thrones S2: "Garden of Bones"

Hello and welcome to week 4 of our S2 coverage of Game of Thrones! Now, we have a bit of a glitch this week: Our beloved Christopher “The Southwest is Bright and Not Full of Terrors” Lockett has gone to Arizona on vacation, and hasn’t actually seen the episode. And… I feel lost. And alone. But, I shall soldier on. So to shake things up a wee bit this week, we’re going to post a She Said, He Said duo of posts, where I will first review the episode in this post, and he will counter with his review later in the week after he’s gotten home, applied cream to the sunburns (no? That’s just what I have to do?) watched the episode, formed some thoughts, and written them down.

And so… you’re stuck with just me for the first part.

First, allow me to quote… myself. From the end of last week’s post: “I can promise you, if you thought you hated Joffrey before, that was nothing compared to what you’ll think of him now.” And wasn’t he everything that’s good and sweet and kind in King’s Landing?

What a vile, little, effing, scum-soaked toad. Our first sight of him is the guy standing before his throne, aiming a crossbow at… Sansa? Yes, Sansa. She sits on the ground before him, groveling and crying and begging him not to pull the trigger, before he decides he won’t be that cruel. No, he’ll just ask one of the King’s Guard to beat the living crap out of her. But… leave the face. He likes to look at her face.

But what is that? Ah yes, Tyrion arrives on the scene just in time to stop what is happening, question what kind of knight beats on a defenseless girl, and to call Joffrey a halfwit. (Hooray!!) When the stupid knight steps forward and suggests he’s threatening Joffrey, Tyrion turns on him. “I’m not threatening the king, sir, I’m educating my nephew. Bronn, the next time he speaks, kill him. THAT was a threat. See the difference??”

Tyrion has had enough of his repugnant nephew, and asks Sansa sincerely if she wants out of the marriage. He’s the Hand of the King, and Joffrey isn’t the uncontested king. This could actually be her way out. But she doesn’t even miss a beat when she responds, “I am loyal to King Joffrey, my one true love.” He stops in his tracks, watching with surprise and awe as she continues to march forward, head aloft and pride intact. “Lady Stark, you may survive us yet.” 

But is that the end of Joffrey for this episode? Oh no. God no. No, next up Tyrion decides to send him a couple of prostitutes, thinking that maybe if his awful relation gets his rocks off, he’ll be able to take it down a notch or two. But Joffrey’s a sociopath. Not only does he refuse to let the whores touch him, but he asks one to beat the other quite harshly with his belt. And when that doesn’t do it for him, he holds the same crossbow to the girl’s head and tells her to penetrate the other girl with a giant scepter. (If there’s any mercy in this scene, there’s a tiny one that she turns the thing around and aims the pointed end at the other girl rather than penetrating her with the horned, spiked end. Jee…SUS.) Baelish is NOT gonna be happy when his girls return to the brothel. And my immediate reaction was, “Oh my god, what’s Tyrion going to say when he finds THIS out?” My husband, on the other hand, thinks that Tyrion knew what Joffrey was going to do all along. I don’t think so… I don’t think he would have put those women in that position if he knew Joffrey would do that. But next week’s episode will tell. (Just a side note: I met graphic novelist Craig Thompson over the weekend, and we got talking about Mad Men and Game of Thrones, which he said were his two favourite shows. He hadn’t seen last week’s MM yet, and I told him it was a Pete Campbell episode. “Well, I’ll only like it if bad things happen to him,” he laughed. “And then, I hope they REALLY happen to that boy king on Game of Thrones.” Haha!) Of course, it’s regarding Joffrey that we get THE best line of the whole night, and despite my abhorrence of the particular word, I laughed out loud when Bronn said about him, “There’s no cure for being a c**t.”

This is an episode about torture. What kind of person can torture another one, why they would do such a thing, and whether it works. Joffrey tortures for sport. Tywin’s men torture under the guise of getting information (about something called the Brotherhood that I'm hoping we're not supposed to know about yet... Chris?), but they seem to take pleasure in watching men scream as well. Tyrion, when his cousin Lancel shows up demanding that he release Pycelle under the orders of Cersei, threatens Lancel with torture, and it’s enough to get the lad to pee his armour and agree to become his spy in Cersei’s bedchamber. Torture is one way to get what you want, but as Tyrion finds out as usual, his words are more powerful than rats in a bucket, and he gets what he wants, whereas Tywin’s men don’t. Robb Stark, on the other hand, vehemently refuses to torture.

Let’s go back to that magnificent opening scene (where, I must admit, I was half expecting two peasants to be packing mud and saying things like, "Look, strange women lying on their backs in ponds handing out swords... that's no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony." Thank you, Monty Python). It opens quietly with some soldiers on watch being spooked by noises, which at first seem to be false alarms and then turn out to be Robb Stark’s formidable army. By daybreak, Stark has massacred the other side, and he’s now on the battlefield seeing what’s left (notice how his more pragmatic men are removing the boots from the feet of the dead). As he sees a nurse wrestling with a wounded soldier, he offers to help, holding the guy down as she amputates his foot by sawing it off (blargh). Robb has become a true warrior in battle, and yet he looks upon this nurse with awe. She, like many of Martin’s female characters, is as feisty as she is talented, and tells Robb angrily that that boy was the son of a fisherman who lost his foot on Robb’s orders, that he probably had never held a gun until the week before, when he had to take up arms against the northern army. Robb tells her bluntly, “I have no hatred for the lad.” “That should help his foot grow back,” she spits back. She asks him what he’ll do when he gets to King’s Landing, and he practically shrugs and says he never wants to sit on the Iron Throne. So… let me get this straight, she says back. You are fighting to overthrow a king but you have NO IDEA what you’re going to do when you get there or what’s going to happen after you win? Robb stands there as if to say, “Well, when you put it THAT way…” What ARE his plans? Would he hand over the throne to one of the Baratheons?

Over in that world, Renly speaks of his disgust for Baelish, who shows up at the camp and begins to chide Margaery about her tent, which is separate from her husband’s. She’ll have none of it, and while we typically see Baelish being the one who’s cool as a cucumber, she never flinches the entire time he’s with her. “My husband is my king and my king is my husband,” she tells him, and that ends THAT discussion.

But Baelish has more important business. If he seemed a little disarmed with Margaery, he’s downright unhinged with Catelyn. I don’t think we’ve ever seen him be anything other than calm and collected, but he throws himself at Catelyn and tells her, “I’ve loved you since I was a boy, it seems fate has given us this chance to…” but of course, she doesn’t let him finish THAT sentence. This man, who plans out everything in advance, seems to be missing part of his brain when he’s in her presence; did he really think that she would just leap into his arms after he helped orchestrate her husband’s murder? When he realizes he’s not getting anywhere with her, he gives her part of what they’d demanded: the body of Ned Stark, so she can bury it. The look on Catelyn’s face as she opens the box and stares at the dead, decapitated corpse (thankfully the camera doesn’t show us what she sees) is devastating. It’s a beautifully acted scene, one that brings home to Catelyn that she’s demanded the return of Ned, Sansa, and Arya. They’ve only returned one of them, and he’s dead and in two pieces. Will she ever see her girls again?

One of those girls has been captured and is now being taken to Harrenhal (incidentally, the place Tyrion promised to Baelish in the previous episode when he "entrusted" to him the lie about marrying off Myrcella), the stronghold of Tywin, Tyrion’s father. Arya and Gendry watch other people being tortured, one we only hear who is clearly on a rack (and even just hearing it is brutal) and another with rats, a bucket, and a torch. (My husband, the second time we were watching it, said, “Could we just skip through that torture scene? I can’t watch that again.”) In the previous episode, Yoren told Arya how he would repeat the name of the man he wanted to kill every night before he slept, just to ingrain it in his psyche that he had to get rid of him. And similarly, we now see Arya creating a list of people, as she recites, “Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne [Ned’s executioner], The Hound…” By the end of the episode, she’s added Pulliver (the guy who took her sword, Needle), and The Mountain to it. One can only imagine how long that list will be by the time she gets back to King’s Landing. Tywin shows up and immediately figures out that she’s a girl, and demands that everyone be put to work and to stop this torture nonsense at once! He’s frightening and a brute (remember that scene last season of him talking to Tyrion), but in this moment, he’s her salvation. He demands she be brought to him as his new cut-bearer. When she and Gendry first arrive at Harrenhal, one of the prisoners asks, “What kind of fire melts stone?” “Dragon fire,” responds Arya. Will that be a prescient statement? Could Daenerys be the one who will take out the Lannisters?

And that brings us to our golden-haired mother of dragons, who has come to the walls of the city of Qarth (I’m assuming that’s how it’s spelled, since she mistakenly called it Quarth at one point), the greatest city that ever was or will be. She’s met by a lispy merchant who won’t give his name, and he is one of “The Thirteen,” a council of men who refuse her entrance unless she can show her dragons first. But Daenerys isn’t stupid: She knows if she shows him the dragons, he’ll take them from her and she’ll be killed. She holds her ground, tells them off (threatening to burn their beautiful city to the ground when her dragons are fully grown), and eventually gets the ear of one of them, the bizarrely named Zaro Zaro Darksos (I’m only writing that phonetically). He disagrees with the Thirteen and allows her to enter the city, so she and her men won’t add to their “garden of bones.” (Can I just add here that I HATE seeing someone cut his or her hand with a knife while the hand is closed over the blade. It’s like the worst paper cut in the world.) The giant doors open, and we see what really does appear to be a glorious city, one that looks quite Roman, but with Greek elements in the background. I look forward to seeing parts of the city up close (although that might be the only landscape shot we get, considering the costs).

This was a great episode, and despite the ooginess of most of it, probably my favourite of the season. But no amount of hand cutting or bucket rats or raping with wood could prepare us for what happens at the end, which could only be described as batshit crazy. Stannis has been given an ultimatum by his brother, Renly (who has a great line when he’s told Stannis was born amidst salt and smoke, and he counters, “Is he a ham?”), who says he has until dawn to put down his weapons and declare Renly the true king, or they’ll take him on, and Stannis’ feeble army couldn’t stand a chance. Renly is truly well spoken, especially next to his brother, who, despite having the fantastic line where he corrected someone who said “less fingers” by telling him the proper grammar was “fewer fingers” (my editor heart leapt with joy), typically has Melisandre do the talking for him.

At the end of the episode, he asks the ever-loyal Davos to take Melisandre to the shore and situate her close to Renly’s army. She’s as creepy as she always is on the boat ride over, and when they get to the island, she tells him he will see her body. But what's under those robes is not what we expect… for, after doing the nasty just a couple of days earlier with Stannis, she already appears to be fully pregnant, and gives birth to some cross between a slimy black thing and the smoke monster from Lost. What the holy hell was that thing?! What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards… er… King’s Landing, to be born?

It’s a truly WTF??!! scene, but one that, again, emphasizes what the opening scene did: that just as that battlefield nurse could one-up Robb with every statement, here’s a woman who silences Davos, seems utterly in control, and is masterfully manipulating the situation. The night really is dark and full of terrors, and after that moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if Davos became 100% celibate.

Stay tuned for Chris’s response! 


Joan Crawford said...

The scene with the scepter was horrifying. I was stunned that they let the scene play on for as long as it did... I mean, that was, well, as you put it: JEE-sus. My knees feel oogy if I think about it :( I don't think Tyrion knew what Joffrey would do - and even if he did, why do it? He isn't a cruel man and what would he have to gain? Joffrey was already going to kill his queen, have her beaten, is insane and cruel and is a well-know sociopath... how would mutilating two whores ruin Joffrey's reputation?

The Question Mark said...

I'm in the midst of the book right now, and I remember Tyrion and Bronn mulling over the idea of sending Joffrey some whores, but the book never really went into detail whether or not they actually sent him any (at least not yet). Since we never get any chapters from Joffrey's point of view, I guess I can assume they did, and all of the wood-raping happened "off-screen", so to speak. But DAMN. That Joffrey is one sick, SICK puppy. I really hope it's Arya who kills him, by sticking him with the pointy end of Needle...right up his you-know-what.

I haven't seen that nurse in the book yet either, and the fantastic scene left me wondering whether she'll become a major character, or if she's just a device to let the audience in on the fact that Robb really has no plans for the future.

@ NIKKI: That merchant with the crazy name who cut his hand is named Xaro Xoan Daxos. But we can save ourselves hours of time by just callign him Mr. X :P

On a side note, I finally got around to seeing the newest Conan movie the other day, and it made me realize that I actually miss that big lug Khal Drogo.

Eddie Vokolek said...

The nurse character was not in the book at all, and left me thinking that they may try to combine this into another Lannister-affilitiated character that plays a large role in Robb's life later on.It doesn't seem like they usually give such a large part to someone who will then exit stage left, never to be seen again.

Loved the part with Tyrion upbraiding "King" Joffrey - I haven't read the book in a while, but I think the dialogue hews very closely to the original. Which I am finding, that I enjoy the show the most when they stick with the original proceedings and dialogue. Martin's writing is so good that you don't really need to embellish, where even Tolkien's (please forgive me)dialogue was largely flat and of the "yea, verily" and "hail fellow, well met" variety (with some notable exceptions.

Blam said...

And Girls was the HBO episode this week titled "Vagina Panic".

You have to apply cream to Christopher's sunburns? ... Does your husband know about this?

I must admit that Sansa — a.k.a. Prissy Brat Medieval-Fantasy-World Skipper — still doesn't come across to me as anything more than survival-level savvy. Tyrion is impressed, which I guess tells us that we're supposed to be; I was going to say he has low expectations but realized that it was an inadvertent pun that's, um, beneath even me. Yes, Sansa regained her composure and became stoic in the face of Tyrion's sympathy — while still in the acoustically inclined throne-chamber, let's not forget — yet I'm not sure that being a spoiled twit with half a brain is anything to send a raven home about. There's a whole chasm of space between "Hero" and "Deserves Joffrey".

One can only imagine how long that list will be by the time she gets back to King’s Landing.

"Morning already?"

VW: opmew — The commentary section in cat newspapers.

Austin Gorton said...

Apparently, Melisandre's womb is dark and full of terrors!

(Sorry, couldn't resist).

@Joan: I'm with you: I don't think Tyrion sent the prostitutes in knowing or expecting Joffrey to brutalize them that way. If nothing else, we know Tyrion has a tremendous amount of affection/respect for prostitutes.

@The Question Mark: I remember Tyrion and Bronn mulling over the idea of sending Joffrey some whores, but the book never really went into detail whether or not they actually sent him any (at least not yet).

I watched this episode with my brother, who read the books recently, and he said Tyrion ultimately just sends him a sword. I almost wish they'd stuck with that, just because that scene made Joffrey so abhorrent.

Blam said...

@Teebore: I don't think Tyrion sent the prostitutes in knowing or expecting Joffrey to brutalize them that way. If nothing else, we know Tyrion has a tremendous amount of affection/respect for prostitutes.

Ha! I'll take Epitaphs That Damn with Faint Praise for $200, Alex.

@Teebore: I watched this episode with my brother, who read the books recently, and he said Tyrion ultimately just sends him a sword.

Well let's just be thankful he didn't do both.

Nikki Stafford said...

Looks like Blam had the same horrifying image in his head that I did when I just read Teebore's comment about the sword. o_O

Jeremy said...

The first time I watched the episode I was under the impression that Joffrey wanted Ros to rape Daisy with the scepter, but after watching it again I think it's also possible that he wanted Ros to just strike her with it.

The Kingsguard thug threatened by Tyrion and Bronn is Ser Meryn Trant. Syrio Forel defended Arya from him in the first season. A far cry indeed from the noble Ser Barristan the Bold, the forcibly retired Lord Commander of the Kingsguard in the first season.

The Summer Islander merchant who admits Dany into Qarth is Xaro Xhoan Daxos. His odd name was part of a joke on 30 Rock a few weeks ago. On another site I've seen him nicknamed Ducksauce.

A.G.Wooding said...

Question Mark: And I will now think of him as Mr. X everytime he is on the screen, haha

Nikki: As to Littlefinger, Ive heard alot of complaints about his behaviour on other blogs but if hed swaggered into Catelyns tent like his usual self then she probably would have stuck that knife in his neck. I choose to believe acting like a love sick puppy was the best option here. Its hard to ever know when hes being genuine and when hes playing a part. Aidan Gillen is so perfect in this role, perhaps more than any other role ive seen him in.

And I love that the two guards at the start were passing the time by wondering who the strongest fighter in Westeros is. I imagine this same conversation has passed between every GoT fan at one time.

Incidentally Id put my money on The Hound to whup every knight in Westeros with one hand tied behind his back. Just saying.

Blam said...

@Jeremy: The first time I watched the episode I was under the impression that Joffrey wanted Ros to rape Daisy with the scepter, but after watching it again I think it's also possible that he wanted Ros to just strike her with it.

I had the same reaction(s) — afraid of where it was going, but then relieved that the sound effects suggested to me that Ros was "only" smacking it on Daisy's bottom.

Blam said...

@A.G.: put my money on The Hound to whup every knight in Westeros with one hand tied behind his back

So he'd strap Tyrion on like C-3P0 and Chewbacca, or what?

VW: titivid — Porn. Or, you know, H-Boobs-O.

Austin Gorton said...

@Blam: Well let's just be thankful he didn't do both.


For what's it worth, I also considered that Joffrey "simply" wanted the scepter used as a club and not as...something else. I've chosen to go with that interpretation, as it's the lesser of two very, very big evils.

JJ said...

I'm loving the show as much as ever, but one thing kind of bothered me this week: "Talissa from Volantis." I like Robb just fine, and it makes sense that the writers would want to give him romance-type story, given his promise to marry the bridge troll's daughter. Good drama/conflict there. That's not the issue.

My problem is that the scene felt out of place on this show, just from the way it was written. We meet a ramdom woman (nurse? healer?) on a battlefield who immediately starts an argument with one of the most powerful men in the kingdoms re: the morality of this war. Instead of ignoring/dismissing her, as a king would be expected to, or getting defensive/upset and explaining his side, as most of us do when we're questioned, he stands gobsmacked and obviously smitten. I just think that's beneath GoT; this show is better than that.

Page48 said...

"after doing the nasty just a couple of days earlier with Stannis, she already appears to be fully pregnant, and gives birth to some cross between a slimy black thing and the smoke monster from Lost"

So, we must assume that Stannis wasn't shooting blanks, but just what the hell was he shooting? This is what happens when you have sex with your clothes on....something wicked this way cums.

Anonymous said...

Just blasted through GOT in two weeks, and it's now my second favorite genre show of all time behind Lost. That being said, I've been trying to figure out who Tywen reminds me of and I finally got it - Widmore! They even have the same voice!

Zach Z said...

@JJ the reason it might have felt out of place is because everything going on with Robb through this book happens off page through rumors of his battle exploits through the west. So the writers have a lot of leeway in creating their own story for what is going on with Robb.

@The Qustion Mark & @Nikki while Mr. X is good like another commenter on here mentioned, because of Andy Greenwald's review on I will always laugh and think his name is Ducksauce...

@Teebore Interesting I didnt remember that they ended up just sending him a sword, but I did remember them discussing it and thought they made the scene so apallingly abhorrent with the whores because the scene with Sansa was cut short and seemed even worse then what she goes through in the show.

Also Nikki I notice you said Arya was to be Tywinn's "cut-bearer" which you slightly misheard and she will be his cup-bearer. Basically there to make sure his wine cup is always full when needed. Which is an interesting change being they never interacted in the book and was the cup-bearer for another high ranking official at Harrenhall.

Nikki Stafford said...

Zach: Thanks for that! I didn't mishear, I mistyped, lol!