So, here we are, episode 5 at last. It appears that the writers planned all along to start ramping things up at this point, and now we have proof that the story is going somewhere. Buildup is only as good as the payoff, so the jury’s still out, but I thought a strong episode heralds the second half of the series nicely. With the death of Renly, and the continued desperation of Theon to please his father at the expense of the Starks, there were at least two things that happened in this episode that I didn’t like. Bad things happening is where good drama comes from though, and the death of Renly is a timely reminder that, as Arya said herself “anyone can be killed”.
In amongst all the foreplay finally giving way to intercourse, it was the first time in a while that I’ve felt genuinely concerned for the Starks. Jon is on dangerous (and icy) ground, Catelyn is alone but for Brienne, Arya is (literally) in the Lions’ den, and Bran is on the verge of drowning in the desire of Theon to win his father’s love. The first family of Game of Thrones (in the audience’s eyes at least) is under threat, and it has brought a welcome spike in the stakes of this show.
The untimely death of Renly was sad. He is portrayed as being charismatic in the books, and Gethin Anthony brings that to the screen to great effect. Weiss and Benioff clearly know that it’s good to leave the audience wanting more, and Renly is the latest in a long line of Game of Thrones characters to die seemingly before their time. Speaking of Baratheons, Renly’s death demonstrated heretofore unseen aspects of Stannis’ personality, and showed that dude’s playing for keeps. His one-note gruffness at first gave him the appearance of being a lesser power, but as each episode goes by, layers are added to his personality, and his ruthless streak is coming to the fore. Less flamboyant than Robert and Renly, his questionable devotion to this mysterious faith makes him hard to figure out, but his implacable removal of his brother shows him as a force to be reckoned with.
Qarth seems suitable exotic and decadent, and it’s good to see Daenarys somewhere other than the desert. Pyat Pree the Warlock was genuinely disturbing, and Xaro Daxos showed that nothing in life comes for free, and where Daenarys’ route to Westeros might come from. Ser Jorah’s speech to Daenarys was well-acted and heartfelt, and it’s true that she has a good heart, however whether she can stay that way in such a dark world remains to be seen.
One thought on the dragon: it was well realised and believable (as mythical creatures that have never existed go), and is a welcome reminder that this story has a long way to go, and many twists and turns yet.