*Bites fist in expression of extreme tension*… ARGH! All… this… buildup… don’t think I can take… any more… Benioff and Weiss are just playing with us, it’s the emperor’s new clothes, there is no matrix!
There, now I’ve got that out of the way, I feel a lot better. So after all my big talk last time out about the need to increase the ratio of payoff to buildup, we got another episode of… buildup. But what buildup! We finally got to see more of Joffrey, who plumbed new depths in his demonstrations of just how exquisitely evil he is. Poor old Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner puts in another affecting performance with, like, layers and everything, but even if she was a terrible actress, it would be hard not to feel sorry for her with the unique form of hell that Joffrey has engineered for her. My complaints about lack of dynamic story development were assuaged somewhat by some deliciously dastardly work from Jack Gleeson, as Joffrey is fast becoming an iconic screen antagonist.
It was good to see the remaining brothers Baratheon come together and have indulge a bit of verbal swordsmanship. Stannis has seemed quite one-note so far in this series, but later on in the episode, he starts to show why he could yet be a force to reckon with. If he continues in this vein, he could yet show beyond all doubt that while Ned Stark was a good man, he wasn’t a clever one.
Another character we haven’t seen much of is Tywin Lannister, but we got a much-needed glimpse of him, and Charles Dance brought that evil-charismatic-amitious portrayal that has made Tywin such a memorable character despite comparatively little screen-time. It was also good to see Daenarys finally get out of the desert, she is a character who has been repeatedly shat on from a great height, and Emilia Clarke could potentially have a thankless task in her hands with this character. Thankfully, she imbues Daenarys with a much-needed sympathetic edge, as otherwise her endless vacillating between victimhood and spoilt-child rage could grate. It will be fascinating to see how she grows from here.
Still, I did say last week that we needed a bit more plot, and a bit less character-development, and at this point, the slow-build is still in effect. It’s fair to say that we now know what most of the characters are thinking, most of the pieces are on the board, and everyone seems to be spoiling for a fight, so some story fireworks wouldn’t go amiss. The first season was impressive in its balancing of story advancement and character development, and so far this season has been weighted much more towards character than to actual plot. We’re still only at the 4th episode, which, (judging by the length of the first series) is not even halfway though, so there is still lot of water yet to go under a lot of bridges. Stay tuned Thronerinos!