Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 3: "Joffrey was dead, to begin with"

We open where last week's show ended. Joffrey has just been poisoned at his wedding, and Ser Dontos, the jester is leading Sansa through the back alleys of King's Landing. I thought this was extremely well-lensed sequence. He delivers her to Littlefinger, who is hanging out in his Pirates of the Caribbean ship, and acting even skeevier than before, if possible.

He promises to give Ser Dontos what's coming to him, stifles some maniacal laughter, and has him shot dead in his raft, while offering some transparently self-serving justifications to Sansa.

Cut to Olenna and Margaery talking about current events.

Margaery's distractions were so fortuitously timed that I assumed that she was in on the plot, but her conversation here suggests she wasn't. She says she didn't enjoy seeing it and Olenna observes: "You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him, I can promise you that." Olenna continues being awesome for a little while and then we cut to Joffrey lying in state.

Tywin talks to Tommen and asks him what a good king should be. They go back and forth forever, and it's really boring. The only good part is right at the end, when they're discussing the traits a good king should have, Tywin answers, "Your brother was not a wise king. Your brother was not a good king. If he had been, he'd probably still be alive." and the view shifts to Cersei's face.
The pair takes off and then we have the worst scene of the episode, and possibly, the series.

Jamie enters the sept, and, after some brief conversation, rapes his sister.

It's your bog standard "No...no...no..yes, Yes, OH YES!" rape scene, where the attacker fucks the objections  right out of the victim and makes her love it. From the way the scene was filmed and presented, I had already come to the conclusion that the showrunners didn't think of it as a "rape scene" before I read the quotes from Alex Graves coming right out and saying that.

However, that's exactly what it is, and the fact that there is this disconnect, that they seem to be saying that if you fuck your victim hard enough (which is a whole other issue by itself), that it magically transforms the assault into something other than rape, is the biggest reminder that rape culture is really a thing. I don't want to be all "Won't someone think of the children?!" but that kind of comment is reflective of the problem in larger society, where too many people think that the only legitimate rape is that which is coerced through violence between people who have not previously had sex. It's an ugly, disturbing scene, but not for the reasons they intended.

Further, while Jaime is certainly no hero (pushing a little kid out a window pretty much removes you from consideration for all time), he seemed to be at least slouching towards redemption, and that undercuts it.

Arya is very pleased with herself
Congratulations, Game of Thrones. You've made incest even creepier.

Let's switch to something nicer. Arya and the Hound. They meet a very well groomed farmer (seriously, his beard is nicer than mine)and his daughter and bluff their way into some hospitality.

The Hound acts all crazy and eventually mugs the Farmer. Arya gets all pissed because this murderer she's palling around with is acting like the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms. He tells her that's just the way things are, and asks how many Starks they have to behead before she figures it out. Best line, ever.

On the wall, we get some interaction between Sam and Gilly. Samwell Tarley, Jon Snow's fat and jolly sidekick, reminded me way too much of Samwise Gamgee in the books. He's grown on me in the show. He and Gilly are really cute together, but this scene goes on forever. It makes the scene with Tommen seem like the essence of brevity.

In my notes, I wrote down "Stannis". I guess there was a scene with Stannis, but for all that happens, there might as well not be. My girlfriend's not in the scene, so I lost interest.

And then we cut BACK to Sam and Gilly. Good god. It. is. really. boring.

Fortunately, after that, we have a scene with Oberyln Martell in his favorite brothel. I would assume that once you shank someone in a brothel, you're no longer welcome there, but princes of Dorne go where they please. Oberyn is giving off his Inigo Montoya vibe, and the only reason the scene could be improved would be through the addition of Tywin.


The two of them have a scenery-chewing contest ( "I would like to speak with the Mountain." "I'm sure he would enjoy speaking with you.") and it's glorious. I like TV Tywin a lot more than book Tywin. It's been a while since I've read them, but my recollection was that we heard about his shrewdness from other people much more often than we saw it on display. He's awfully canny in the show, and that's in full display when he tries to woo Oberyn to his side. He's a ton of fun to watch. I can almost believe what he'd like us to believe, that he does what he must for the Lannister legacy and not merely what will profit Tywin Lannister.

Speaking of Lannisters, we transition to Tyrion Lannister in the dungeon. The one change I don't like about him is that he's a lot less morally grey than he was in the books. He approaches saintly in the show (or as near to saintly as anyone gets in Westeros) and we see that again when he dismisses his squire, so that the boy's life won't be in danger. It's not a terrible change, and a show with nothing but vile characters can be a slog pretty quickly, but he has a little less bite than his literary counterpart.

And at the end of the episode, we have Dany Sue, looking bland and vaguely constipated, as always. Emilia Clarke gets to show off her range with this scene.


We recently had the "Somebody meets Dany and thinks she's so great that he's going to stop what he's doing and spend the rest of his life serving her" storyline, so we're going to get the other Dany story, the one where she becomes the whitest possible savior to a bunch of brown people. Um, yay?

She rides up to a city. A champion rides out from the city and pees on the ground. Daenerys rejects the first three offers from men ready to die on her behalf, but allows sexy Daaaario to kill the dude. He does, and the scene is actually kind of cool, but it's a Dany scene, so I'm obliged to hate it. We end with Dany giving a speech about how great she is. Boo.


  1. I never like Martin's writing, going back to the '70s when I read virtually all the sf published, and I was never interested in those "fat book" endless bloated fantasy series that have infested the publishing world like swarms of mutant killer cockroaches, so I was unfamiliar with Game of Drones when it started up on HBO. My wife wanted to check it out, so we watched the first episode. That was more than enough. Boobs and beheadings, soft-core torture porn for the obese Dorito-munching skiffy nerds, characters who casually murder children -- ooh, it's all so shocking! Feh. That's crap, that is.

    1. DeVito! I've got three weeks of Zelazny haiku and this is the post that gets you to comment? Time to write a little bit more about the Blue Baboon!

      I think Martin is a pretty outstanding worldbuilder, though the fifth book in the series meanders quite a bit. The older books, while large, have something noteworthy happening in almost every chapter.

      The first episode of the series left us with a bad impression too. "Why would I want to watch a show with nothing but assholes?" and we didn't continue on to the second for several weeks.

      I think they each accomplish what they set out to do. However, that goal may not be to your liking. For instance, Joss Whedon generally accomplishes what he sets out to do with a piece. I just happen not to like what he was attempting. My criticism comes down to not enjoying the thing it successfully does, and it sounds like you're in the same boat with A Game of Thrones.

  2. Heh. Sometimes I'm unpredictable.

    Mad Men is a show with nothing but assholes, but I find it endlessly involving. Maybe I'm just tired of the sci-fi/fantasy thing. 1960s America is a bizarre enough planet to visit.

    By the way, I reread Blue Baboon recently and kind of liked it! It's an interesting twist on the old "biter bit," taking place entirely inside the biter's head. That's how I interpreted it this time, anyway.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . .