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GAME OF THRONES: Not Exactly A Clash of Kings


Episode 2.1 “The North Remembers”

Finally, the second installment of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire comes to HBO. But it’s not called A Clash of Kings. It’s still called Game of Thrones. I don’t know why. That was the first book. This is the second. I could probably find out why, but in my mind the reasoning is irrelevant, it’s what they did, and my opinion of it is also irrelevant.

I’m sitting here. In front of the television, and I desperately want to push play. I, like MILLIONS of other budget-minded pseudo-journalists, do not subscribe to HBO. I’m cool with that, because that means I have to watch Game of Thrones in the company of friends. The friends with HBO. My bestest Sunday night buddies. Tonight, I’m with a Little Bird. I asked Little Bird if she followed GoT. She seemed unimpressed by it. I was shocked by her level of apathy for what has up to this point been one of the most engaging and brutally entertaining series since Deadwood, which she also said was too much like a soap opera. I wonder if she’s ever actually watched a soap opera. Not important though. She’s letting me use her space to write, so I’ll just nod and enjoy the show I guess. Nobody’s perfect, after all.

I slightly digress.

I WANT to push play, as it’s been DVR’d for me by Little Bird, but I can’t just yet. The wait has been so long. I don’t want the anticipation to be over without the chance to brace myself. There should be some kind of…..ceremony. Trumpets should bleat out some anthem that makes us clinch our butt cheeks and sit a little more straight in our seats. And as I write that, I realize that that’s what the intro is for. So off I go.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/s7L2PVdrb_8]

Game of Thrones – The North Remembers

First thing to say, Joffrey is a little noodnick. Still. Especially on his “Name Day” (Another Martinism. This show has many. That means it’s his birthday.), where the episode opens. Joffrey is enjoying watching people kill each other, and being his usual idiot self. Sansa shows some deftness in manipulating Joffrey into sparing a man he wanted to kill for idiotic reasons. Then enter Tyrion. After offering Sansa condolences for her father’s death, causing Joffrey to demonstrate a taste of the tyranny he has over his own intended, and the rest of King’s Landing. Satisfied, Tyrion exits.

Helen Sloan/HBO

Off Tyrion goes to visit his sister Cersei, mother of the King, to announce his arrival and new position as Hand of the King while their father is off dealing with Robb Stark’s rebellion. He finds her in the small council chamber where she becomes so outraged at the idea of the Imp as hand, Cersei immediately clears the room of everyone but her and her brother. A very “Oh no she didn’t” moment. In private, he discovers that she’s completely bungled the whole Stark hostage thing, and has no control at all over her son, which absolutely delighted him, because for once he’s not the disappointing one. He gives her a prolonged “are you that stupid?” look and drinks his wine. No wonder Peter Dinklage won an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, the young lord Bran Stark is holding court, and apparently Rickon is intermittently doing the Beastmaster thing with his Direwolf, and traveling all incognito with Hodor and the wildling.

So. The comet is here. Which never really realized it’s potential in the books. But I think it’s what brings magic back to the Seven Kingdoms. A bit of a stretch, I know, but Martin keeps adding layers to the story that aren’t always buttoned up, so I have to make my own assumptions from time to time. Arya’s Direwolf, for example, could just show back up and it would be awesome, but he never does. Sorry if you, like me, were hoping he’d come back.

Daenerys loses her horse. It just up and dies, which makes her realize a change of tactics. Instead or walking around the wastelands, she decides to send scouts out to find people to cross the sea with her. She’s still SUPER boring without Khal Drogo.

The men of the wall are out for the blood of the wildlings and everything else north of the wall. The thing is, they can’t seem to find any. Everyone is just….gone. That’s probably because Manse Raider is gathering an army elsewhere to march south. Not-so-great news for Lord Commander Mormont. Jon Snow sticks his foot in his mouth and gets a chewing from the Lord Commander. Also a lesson. So glad they had that little talk.

Aaaaah. The new religion and our first glimpse of the Red Lady. Stannis Beratheon has apparently placed his head directly up his kiester. His old master tries to poison the new red lady and ends up dying instead. No idea how that happened. I mean, they both drank from the same cup. She must be magic or something. Go figure.

Robb Stark confronts Jamie Lannister as they march toward king’s landing, Jamie in chains. Not a lot of actual information, but a bit of posturing and bravado, ending with an awesome shot of Rob’s Direwolf, who really, really wants to eat Jamie.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Tyrion welcomes his FWB, Shae (European porn star Sibel Kekilli, in case you were wondering.), to King’s Landing, and after a warning from Tyrion to Shae to keep a low profile in King’s Landing, they….um……keep a low profile. If you know what I mean.

Cersei asks Balish to help with the search for Arya Stark. Then she almost has him killed. Just as a demonstration of power. Balish seemed to think that knowledge is power, and that his own knowledge of Cersei’s infidelities (to say the least) trumps her command over the King’s Guard. Well, he was wrong. Turns out that power is actually power. So there’s that.

The King in the North issues quite the list of demands of the Lannisters. He certainly knows how to pick a fight. Theon Greyjoy entreats Robb to let him run home right quick and fetch a bunch of boats from his father. Rob’s mother Kate is acting like she’s never heard of politics. She’ll remember when she goes and gets Renly’s army. Oh it’s all so very exciting.

Helen Sloan/HBO

Cersei lets Joffrey know that they need to round up that Stark girl. Joffrey’s too much of a pratt to deduce that they’re talking about deciding not to save his father’s life. Or is he? He’s heard the rumors of his mother’s… indiscretions, so he lashes out, calling her a whore. It’s Cersei’s turn to slap the snot out of Joffrey. I can’t wait for the YouTube compilation of that moment, combined with Tyrion’s from the series premiere.

The King’s Guard busts open one of Balish’s brothels to find and murder one of King Robert’s bastard children. As a larger effort to eliminate all the bastards of Baratheon. But it seems they missed one. The blacksmith’s apprentice, who’s been sent to The Wall, along with Arya, disguised as a boy. Which is how the episode ends.

So. What do we think of all that? I think this episode does a good job of setting up some of the things to come. But that’s really about it. It has all of the elements that I love about the series, like the physical brutality, and obtuseness in the face of wisdom, political intrigue, etc., but there was no “oomph.” No “zazz.” No taste of the expanded budget this season no doubt was allotted. Exciting things to come. One must lay a foundation before building an empire.

See you next week, Thronanites (still working on a name for us).

Mr. Smith

[Official Show Site at HBO]

Curtis Smith

Curtis Smith, a native of Curtistan, is an actor, whip maker, and musician.

One thought on “GAME OF THRONES: Not Exactly A Clash of Kings

  • I must needs remind you of your spelling, ser. It is Robb, Catelyn, and Baelish. And the Starks’ direwolves are the same sex as their owners! Well writ, though, Lord Smyth. I think that changing the title would be a little presumptuous because that can get very confusing, and it would do what all tv hates (unless the show sucks): changing the branding, in this case, its title. And when they arrived to Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons, it would be confusing, because both take place at the same time. They’ve taken some steps to ferry the story along faster in the show, for good reason, but they needn’t change the title. And if they started by calling it A Song of Ice and Fire, it wouldn’t be as much of a draw for the dull tv etchers out there. I think the title should stay, because the phrase is an ample summatry of the story, and it is used throughout the books.

    As for fans? lords and Ladies, Westerosi, Throners, Gamers of Thrones, The First Men, The Bannermen, Crows, Sworn Brothers, Black Cloaks, any house but Lannister (Tyrion excluded), Direwolves, Men-at-Arms, etc would be my suggestion. There is no lack of groups in the story, though you might want to stick to the show to find your name. Oh, and Dragonborn. Or really any sigil.mokay, I’ll stop.

    Reply

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