The balance of power continues to shift, but the biggest shift has yet to even be felt.
What They Say:
Fire and Blood – A new king rises in the north; a Khaleesi finds new hope.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Suffice to say, the previous episode was the kind that really throws a whole lot of shock and surprise to those viewers who have not read the books. We’ve had characters killed earlier in the series to be sure, butt the death of Ned Star was not what anyone expected since he’s essentially been billed as the lead character. What it does is show that nobody is safe in this adaptation of the novels and that they will go through with the hard and powerful choices that highlight just how good fantasy novels can be. When a show has a chance to shock and surprise its audience, it’s doing its job very right. And A Game Of Thrones has done that consistently from the start and has shown us the dangerous path that so many of them walk on.
Watching as the news spreads is quite fascinating to see unfold. Arya in particular has a great moment at the start as she’s being told how to survive, to be turned into a boy as her hair is cut short and to believe she is nothing but. Bran is dealing with the dream that he had about his fathers passing and seeing him in the crypt and that comes at the same time that news arrives about his fathers true death, which just reinforces things for him. Catelyn’s stoic nature is starting to crack, but she has others to be strong for, such as Robb who is furious with grief, practically ruining his sword on a tree in order to take out his base frustrations about it. The family is handling it about as you’d expect considering what they’ve been through and the level of emotion is pretty appropriate.
Joffrey’s ascent to king has definitely brought a dark and twisted person to power and we’ve seen that since practically the first moment we laid eyes on him. What he’s done to Eddard alone proves that, and doing it in front of Eddard’s daughter and his own bride to be just shows how he intends to rule. And he’s making it all the clearer now that he sits even more comfortably on the throne, having a bard choose between keeping his tongue or hands after making an inappropriate ballad. But Joffrey does know what he cannot do, as instructed by his mother, and that’s not to strike a lady. His domination over Sansa is a slow and curious thing as he establishes it by having others strike her for him. Her desire to kill him only hardens, but there are those that don’t want to see her go that route, at least not yet. It could go so many bad ways because of it that there is reason to hesitate in this area.
While things are changing rapidly with Robb raising to the level of a northern king in the eyes of his men and those in the area, the real chaos is ensuing within the Lannister camp. Tyrion’s father is in the process of trying to figure out what to do next now that his son is captured and his troops sent to the hills and any chance of even a temporary peace in order to regroup is lost sine Joffrey killed Eddard. That move may have served him well in King’s Landing, it’s turned everything elsewhere to chaos because of it. Naturally, that will create a bigger issue for Tyrion as he’s gaining some respect in his fathers eyes as he’s showing some solid strategy and understanding of the situation, and that has him now being sent to King’s Landing to serve as the King’s Hand in an attempt to put Joffrey in his place. And that of Cersei as well, as he tells Tyrion that can deal with them all as need be in order to restore order.
The Dothraki arc in this episode is hard to watch now that Drogo has been beaten down by the witch that Daenerys had saved, since she did not understand the level of suffering she had gone through prior to that. Daenerys’ loss is significant though with what the witch has done, both to her personally and to her stars and sun that is now but an empty shell of what he was. The life of Drogo has been far more interesting to watch than I would have expected from the start, as has that of his Khaleesi, and seeing them both at this stage of it, in this state of pain and suffering, is more powerful than I could have guessed. They truly changed each others lives and where it has put the Khaleesi at the end of it here really is quite moving.
With the season drawing to an end here, a lot of what we get is essentially setup for future events. There’s significant movements across the board as we see various elements figuring out their next moves, such as the Lannisters and that of Robb and what he has. Arya is finding her way north with a real ragtag group of people and Catelyn has a particularly brutal moment with Jamie Lannister that answers some of her questions, but not all. Little moments fill the episode to good effect, such as what we learn from Baelish about what he’d do should be king and Jon Snow dealing with the news of his father’s death. His desire to go and help runs square into the problem of being one of the Night’s Watch now and having given up his connections to the rest of the world. It’s a difficult position that he’s been put in where he truly has to choose what he is at this point, and it all ties things back to the very beginning of the series as well which was wonderful. Some small loose ends are cleaned up in this way, but largely it’s all about being the opening salvo of a much larger storyline.
A Game Of Thrones has done something few series get to do these days and that’s to tell a compelling, engaging story across all of its episodes where things happen constantly. There are quiet moments to be sure, times when it’s just a bit of casual nature to help show the bonds of characters, but with the size of the cast and the number of locations, they accomplish more here in ten episodes than many shows do across a couple of seasons. With more more primetime shows getting less and less accomplished, it makes this show stand out all the more. As a finale, it’s a bit rough because it’s all about setup for the next season but it has so many fantastic moments to it, big and small, that you can’t help but to be enthralled by it. And with the final piece focusing on Daenerys, it proves to be supremely powerful and you can completely understand the reactions of all around here. This is one of those few shows that will be entirely worth the wait because if it’s anything like this season, it will be done completely right and thoroughly enjoyable.