Game of Thrones Season 2 Thronedown: Episode 8 – The Prince of Winterfell
May 2012 23

So… After half a season of building tension, shifty whispering, and political manoeuvring, we finally have a couple of episodes where things happen, people die, and then… and then we… have another episode of the slow-build. I’m sure it’s all in a good cause, and in fairness to Messrs Weiss and Benioff, it had a lot of good talking in it. Which is always good in a talky episode.

Robb and Talisa finally got it on and dispelled some of the sexual tension that you could cut with a blunter-than-average spade. Often these kind of romances can feel forced or tacky, and even though it was obvious from approximately 45 miles away that they were going to get it on, I think it was drawn out long enough that the climactic canoodle felt satisfying. It’s not often I enjoy a love sub-plot (largely because they’re all so generic), but I thought this one was good, if slight. Word of warning: if you enjoyed that nice, warm, unfamiliar feeling otherwise known as happiness watching ‘Game of Thrones’, then it’s worth pointing out that this will not stand for long. Enjoy the love and positivity while it lasts because judging by the rest of the series, some sadistically cruel demise will befall one or both of those two.

Robb: finally gets some good lovin'

Now, don’t be alarmed, but this is probably my first genuinely negative criticism of this series, I can’t get past the following question: would Catelyn Stark really free Jaime Lannister? Really? Maybe it’s better explained in the books, but I found that very hard to believe that she would do that. Still, as missteps go, it’s not catastrophic, and the conundrum that it forced Robb into when he had her arrested was enjoyable in a masochistic sort of way. I think the fact that they didn’t actually show the scene where she frees ole Jamie, considering the way they left it the last time they were on screen together, is a tacit admittance that they couldn’t show it in a believable way.

Stannis and Davos had an illuminating man-to-man chat, Davos getting the promised reward that Stannis is so bitter about not getting. Stannis is a good example of the way ‘Game of Thrones’ reveals characters and then continually adds layers of nuance. As the initially gruff and uninteresting older Baratheon, he’s growing in stature all the time. His evident ruthlessness and potentially destructive faith are offset by a wisdom that shows itself when talking to Davos, and Davos responds in kind. It’s good to see that Billy Bragg would be able to find plenty of material were he to make a ‘Game of Thrones’ concept album (Billy, if you’re reading, the answer to your question is 5%; I’m not greedy).

The strange discovery made by the Night’s Watch north of the wall was an unexpected wrinkle, and with it not being immediately clear where they are going with that find, it’s a clever way to pique our interest. Mind you, I’ve been missing Samwell and his ‘jolly but wise and sensitive fat guy’ routine, so any excuse is a good excuse to see them. Jon Snow did a lot more trudging through snow with his Wildling captors while looking gloomy. It’s been planted that Jon Snow has a lot in common with them, including the fact that the Starks share common ancestors with Northmen, but it would be a rejection of his latest father-figure, in commander Mormont, so I’m not sure if I could get on board with him changing sides at this stage.

Whores very rarely do well in movies or TV shows. In fact, they usually die or have some other horrible deed committed against their person. It’s probably some kind of subconscious old-testament morality on the part of writers, but the fate of Roz in this slightly fortuitous (for Tyrion) case of mistaken identity by Cersei, the grand old tradition was clinically upheld. It was enjoyable to get yet another glimpse of Joffrey being gloriously, idiotically, exponentially evil. Some might say that having such a two-dimensionally bad character diminishes his believability and resonance, reflecting badly on the show as a whole, but I disagree. These days it’s so passe to have just plain evil villains that they always have to have some angsty backstory centred around some horrible event that shaped them indelibly. Problem is, after you’ve seen that play out a few times, it becomes just as old hat as 2D villains, and I applaud them for embracing pure evil with Joffrey.

Spoiler: not burnt

Tyrion and Varys have had some good exchanges in the way that I hoped Littlefinger and Varys might do in the first series. Let’s hope there’s more to come in this relationship. We were all very relieved when it turns out that the Stark lads are alright, but if you really didn’t see that story twist coming, then I’d like to recommend the works of this director called M. Night Shyamalan to you, I think you’d get a lot out of his films. Ending on another melancholy psychic Bran note, this episode has left me suitable hyped for the last two episodes in the series, I tremble with excitement as I type!

With that, I’m signing off, Throners. Feel free to comment below.

TA

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