Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 5: "I bet his hair is greasier than Joffrey's..."

We open with Tommen getting crowned. He's wearing such a flat expression that he looks like a Targaryen.

Cersei approaches Margaery, whom I will henceforth refer to as "Natalie", because I can never remember how to spell her name, and I always have to look it up and paste "Margaery" into whatever I'm writing. Cersei is rather frank. Joffrey was crazy, but she still loved him because he was her son. My favorite scene with Cersei and Joffrey was near the beginning of the series, where she's bandaging his wound after he was mauled by a dire wolf. He's afraid that he's a coward, and she reassures him that he's not. I could believe that she really loved him. Even the most monstrous of us are human beings.

It's a really great discussion. Natalie says all the right things, and is perhaps a bit nervous that Cersei is acting so rationally. It's pretty clear that Cersei is still jockeying to hold on to some power, but it's one of those instances where being a decent person will get her closer to her goals, so that's what she's doing. It's a nice bit. It's really nice to see two women talking together, which is something that occurs far too infrequently in media.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Dany is like "Waaaaah, queening is hard!"

Her accent is weird. It reminds me of Brad Pitt in Troy, where his accent wasn't quite British, but that affected accent that Americans use when portraying characters from ancient times. No, that's not true. It's the accent of something who only had old VHS copies of the Princess Bride, and who taught herself English by listening to Christopher Guest as Count Rugen. Much like every other aspect of her performance, it's awful and distracting.

Plus, when I'm finished watching one of her scenes, I feel like it's sucked away one year of my life.

I love how wikiquote characterizes her reactions.

Jorah Mormount: Joffrey Baratheon is dead. Murdered at his own wedding. (Daenerys stares at him in amazement)
Barristan Selmy: And we've taken the Meereenese Navy, Your Grace.
Daario Neharis: The Second Sons took the Meereenese Navy.
Daenerys Targaryen: (sharply)Who told you to take their Navy?

Here's how she looks when she's staring "in amazement"

and here's how she looks when she's speaking sharply.

Lady's a chameleon!

I hear more emotion from the voice that gives me turn by turn directions when I use the navigation on my phone. "Turn left on Schultz av-en-nue. Your des-tin-at-tion is on the right."

It's the usual "Aren't we the best?" self-congratulatory circle jerk I've come to expect with scenes featuring Daenerys and her man-harem, but there is one funny line in the scene, where Daaaaaaaario tells her that he took the Mereenese navy. When she asks he why he did this, he answers "I heard you like ships."

He's such a monumental tool.

She totally deserves him.

We cut to Sansa and Littlefinger approaching the Aerie. Sansa looks about two feet taller than Littlefinger.

We meet Aunt Lysa and her son Robin. They're crazy. Then again, her sister kidnapped a dwarf, so maybe there's something wrong with the Tullys. Turns out Lysa was crazy for Littlefinger, and she poisoned her husband at his behest. She's all like, "Exposition turns me on. Let's fuck," and he's clearly disgusted by the whole thing.

They get their bow-chikka-wow on, and it's awkward for Sansa in the suite below.

The scene changes to Tywin and Cersei. Tommen's wedding is scheduled for a fortnight, with Cersei's wedding to Ser Loras to follow another two weeks after that. Cersei is, again, suspiciously reasonable. Tywin tells her that they need these weddings, because their mines have run dry and they need the money the Tyrells will bring in order to pay their debt to the Iron Bank of Bravos.

The scene ends with Cersei observing that Tywin is acting to protect the legacy of the Lannisters and asking "What does Tyrion deserve for lighting the future on fire?"

That moustache is punishment enough.

We get a short scene with Arya reciting her list of names of people to kill. Something seems a bit off about this scene, because the Hound doubtless would have heard the list before, and it shouldn't require explaining at this point in their relationship.

Lysa Arryn has a nice chat with her niece, and comes completely unhinged after two minutes. She tells Sansa to stay away from her man, because her boobs belong to Littlefinger and Robin alone. Sansa eventually convinces her crazy aunt that she's still a virgin, and Aunt Lysa tells her that she'll be married to Robin. Won't that be a treat?

Then we get a wonderful scene with Brienne and Podrick, with the pair riding along and Podrick barely managing to control his horse. These two are fun.

Next scene, the Hound wakes, and seeks out Arya, who is practicing her swordplay. Maisie Williams begins a flip, the camera cuts away to obfuscate the identity of her stunt double, and then returns to show Maisie sticking the landing.

Ugh, that was awful. Never do that again.

The scene is somewhat redeemed by the hearty laugh the Hound has at her expense.

Sandor Clegane: The hell you doing?
Arya Stark: Practicing.
Sandor Clegane: What, ways to die?
Arya Stark: No one's going to kill me.
Sandor Clegane: They will if you nance around like that. That's no way to fight.
Arya Stark: It's not fighting. It's water dancing.
Sandor Clegane: Dancing? Maybe you ought to put on a dress. Who taught you that shite?
Arya Stark: The greatest swordsman who ever lived. Syrio Forel, the First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos.
Sandor Clegane: [scoffs] Braavos. Greasy-haired little bastard, I bet. They all are.
Arya Stark: What do you know about anything?
Sandor Clegane: I bet his hair is greasier than Joffrey's cunt.
Arya Stark: It was not.
Sandor Clegane: Was? He dead?
Arya Stark: Yes.
Sandor Clegane: How?
Arya Stark: He was killed.
Sandor Clegane: Who by?
Arya Stark: Meryn Trant. That's why Ser Meryn--
Sandor Clegane: Meryn Trant? The greatest swordsman who ever lived killed by Meryn fucking Trant?
Arya Stark: He was outnumbered.
Sandor Clegane: Any boy whore with a sword could beat three Meryn Trants.
Arya Stark: Syrio didn't have a sword. Or armor. Just a stick.
Sandor Clegane: The greatest swordsman who ever lived didn't have a sword? [laughs] All right. You have a sword. Let's see what he taught you. Go on, do it for your Braavosi friend. Dead like all the rest of your friends.
[Arya stabs him with Needle, but the sword won't penetrate his armor and Sandor smacks her in the face]
Sandor Clegane: Your friend's dead and Meryn Trant's not 'cause Trant had armor and a big fucking sword.

This was really pretty nifty, and calls back to both an episode of season one, where Jorah got in a fight with some random Dothraki, as well as the books, where good armor is consistantly portrayed as a very large advantage.

And thirty minutes into the episode, we open on Oberyn Martell, writing poetry for one of  his daughters.

This had so many good lines. I really like Lena Headey's performance, showing Cersei as sincere in her grief, but scheming, just the same. And Oberyn is amazing, as always. When Cersei asks him to walk with her ahead of her large entourage, "May I show you the gardens?" "I couldn't very well refuse a royal escort" "No, you couldn't."

Regarding Tyrion's trial:

Oberyn: "We will have a trial and we will learn the truth."
Cersei: "We will have a trial, anyway."

When discussing Cersei's daughter, who was sent to Dorne for her safety.

Oberyn: "You have my word. We don't hurt little girls in Dorne."
Cersei:"Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls."

Cercei asks him to send a gift to Sunspear for her daughter, and he agrees.

Then we get another scene with Podrick and Brienne, where Podrick sets a rabbit on fire, because he's never cooked before.

 He admits to Brienne that he's never done much done anything other than to pour Tyrion's wine and kill the odd member of the Kingsguard. I think I'm going to like their scenes a lot. They're probably the most fundamentally decent characters in the show.

And for the end of the episode, Locke the Superman is poking around Craster's keep. He sees Bran and the rest of the middling kids, but when he returns to report to the rest of the Night's Watch raiding party, he neglects to mention that.

We get some conversation between the kids, and I like the bit with Bran and the tree.

Then Owen comes in and gets ready to rape Meera right there. More rape, how delightful. Time to flip that "Game of Thrones has gone X days without depicting a rape" sign back to zero.

But then the Night's Watch attacks.Locke sneaks into the tent, and asks Bran to identify himself. Bran is silent, but doesn't flinch when Locke slashes one of his paralyzed legs, so he knows he's got his boy. He leaves with Bran, who takes over Hodor's body, breaks free of his chains, runs Locke down and breaks his neck.

Out, damn spot!

Damn! The Starks are the good guys? The Lannisters never mind controlled a dude to kill another dude.

And I'm kind of halfway joking here, and it's certainly justifiable self-defense to kill your kidnapper. I'm reluctant to make the comparison, because rape is something that really happens to people and mind control isn't, and I don't want to diminish the seriousness of the former. One is real, and one is pretend.

That said, what Bran did is a pretty tremendous violation of Hodor's personhood. There were plenty of animals Bran could have warged to do the deed. Hodor is clearly confused and devastated. That's a shitty thing to do to a person who calls you a friend.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow is facing down Owen. Jon has his sword, Owen has two knives. Owen's the better combatant, and soon has the advantage against Jon. He breaks out a variation of the "You learned to fight in a castle" accusation Bronn levelled against Jaime last week. It's such an odd thing to say, and even less applicable here. Whatever Eddard Stark was, he was a practical man, who loved his children. I am as certain as I am about anything, that he would never had them tutored in swordplay that wouldn't have real world application. I think the better explanation is that Owen's simply the superior fighter and his shorter weapons are more suited for the close quarters of their encounter.

He's winning, and he takes Jon down and prepares to finish him when he's stabbed in the back by one of Craster's wives. When he turns on Craster's wife, he's stabbed in the brain by Jon Snow, which was one heck of a called shot.

Aim for the medulla, Fox!

Bran and company split, and then Jon's crew teams up with Craster's wives to burn down the keep.

Pretty great episode, big improvement over last week's. Would have liked to see my girlfriend or Olenna, but you can't have everything.

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