Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.2 - "The Night Lands"

I wasn't planning on doing a weekly thing, but I got a lot of questions about this weeks episode to the point that it might be a good idea to put some ideas and thoughts down as a sort of reference; it's funny, people say  they don't want any info from the book, but many are wondering whether this season's introduction of many new characters (we have not even seen Renly's crew yet) means that the ones we come come to know and love will get the short end of the stick. 

And the truth is - ultimately yes, the character stories will be farther in between because essentially, most all of the point of view characters have been shifted into their own stories. That means, due to the hour-long time constraint, some individual stories that were thin to begin with, or in their very beginnings, will probably get abridged to make room for the more overt and important happenings that affect the world of Westros. Sure, one can hit the major plot points, but adapting something as weighty as the GoT tomes is going to require sacrifice.

That being said, I have heard rumblings that there will be entire portions of added content to Robb Stark's character in the show, versus the fact that in the book he is never a POV character. Again, knowing the established plot of all the books, I could guess as to why that would be based on the differences in the two entertainment mediums (no spoilers here). In, reality it is up to the show-runners to smooth the story around the edges to fit it to a TV hour-long, so I guess my original should have been, "I don't know" it's whatever the show runners, and a very involved George R.R. Martin, believes are essential and cut-worthy plot points. Characters will  ebb and flow in their relative importance to events, yet they are each so rich and interesting I believe that people will embrace the idea of not having a main character. This is a very important season of GoT, because if they are able to pull off audiences resonating with a new cast of characters every week, it will bode well for the series longevity as it only gets more complex.

Speaking as a fan of both the show and the books, I can tell you that the way each character has been conceived in respects to the overall narrative has been pretty on the money - and that perhaps that in itself is the most important part of a series so devoted to characters. For example, Theon Greyjoy's introduction to the Iron Islands was note perfect, in all its sad creepiness (he rhymes with meek). In only a few scenes we get everything we need to know about the characters that, in the book, spent several chapters orienting and explaining. Essentially, the insecure prodigal son returns to the Iron Islands to enlist his father's help in aiding Robb. The Iron Islands is at best a semi-organized pirate society under the Kraken banners of house Greyjoy, Theon's father, and his host of ships. The problem is that their only real currency is their fighting mettle and again, their ships, since the harsh climate surrounding the fortress of Pyke is only made hospitable by paying "the iron price," or stealing/claiming goods for their own. It's a theme that penetrates all aspects of Iron Islander culture, and something that a boy like Theon, a war prisoner raised by the noble Ned Stark as one of his own, is going to have a hard time adjusting to. Oh, and the fact that his sister is more of a man than he will ever be. 

Wait until you see her throw an axe.

In other Westrosi news, Tyrion is becoming a supreme badass as the new Hand to the King. I am really enjoying how Tyrion is more or less becoming the avenger of headless Ned, cleaning house and putting people on notice; it's fun to watch him play the game of thrones in such a way that Ned Stark couldn't, but with still a shred of decency. I am looking forward to a Joffry/Tyrion scene, I need a new slapping .gif. Very cool to hear him talk up the Nights Watch as well.

It's good that the writers are using the widening rift between Cersei and her son as a catalyst to get her back to the bitch we all know and love. One of my minor quibbles with last season was I felt that they made her character a little too sympathetic, but the scene where Cersei delivers a series of stinging low-blows to Tyrion about killing their mom in childbirth seemed to get her back on track. What a C-word.

Some people have voiced their disapproval with the now ubiquitous sexposition scenes, in the sense that they would rather have more time with characters. I tend to agree that if done wrong, it could turn into a Spartacus-like trope, yet the brothel scene with Littlefinger served the dual purpose of bewbs and character development. For me, as long as they are able to maintain those scenes as being meaningful to development of character or story, I'm all for T&A.

The Night's Watch/Jon Snow stuff are always so cool and different, even in the books, as is everything north of The Wall. From very early on, I was always more taken by the ominous threat from the north as being more serious than the kings fighting for a throne. I have some theories about a few individuals who are or might be agents working for evil forces that have the sole goal of destabilizing the Seven Kingdoms by promoting distrust and war, thus ignoring the warnings of the Watch and paving the way for an easy invasion. I have talked about my theories centering around Jon Snow, so I am a pretty firm believer that whatever the climax of the Song of Fire and Ice will be, it's gonna happen on his watch. It also very symmetrical to bookend an episode devoted to incest with the fate of Craster's male offspring, who are offerings to the White Walkers so that he can continue his life creating new daughters/love-partners undisturbed. What happens to the boys? Well it's either (A) Food or (B) they become the next generations of White Walkers. Or (C) Frozen Rugby Balls.

My second favorite character next to Snow is Arya. Her journey is in the very early stages, but the destination is going to be amazing. The audience is going to have to put up with the fact that this beginning segment, as with every character this season, is about introducing and orienting everybody so that their real journeys can begin. The interplay between Gendry, the oldest Baratheon bastard, and Arya was "cute," but I was more drawn to the talking man in the cage, who had a very deliberate and familiar way of speaking. Keep an eye on him - if you can - he has very big impact on Arya's destiny.

Every GoT episode has been great, but it is clear that these first few episodes are going to be devoted to introducing new characters and their motivations. Do not fret though, things will get a lot smoother as new faces become familiar and interact with old favorites. Take the favorite character quiz to the right if you have a chance, and post questions or comments and I'll try to answer them in the next piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment