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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eoisode 106 Recap: "What Happened Next?"

Sweetrobin inadvertently sums up this episode very nicely with his query to Tyrion. Episode six deals with the consequences of several character's choices from previous episodes. Catelyn's choice to take Tyrion continues to pit the two against each other in the Vale and send shockwaves across the realm. Jaime's rash misjudgment in attacking Eddard and his men has the capital in an uproar and lords across Westeros are calling their levies. Viserys' decision to marry off his sister has begun to backfire on him whilst Dany continues to come into her own. Even Robert's incapability at making the difficult choices thrust on him in his role at monarch is beginning create ramifications for both king and kingdom.
This is the second episode in a row to forgo the Wall, but we do get reacquainted with the Dothraki contingent. We also get duels,  moon doors, more Arya and Syrio, Baratheon brotherly love and Khal Drogo's first attempt at millinery!
Credits - Nothing new as far as I could tell.
King's Landing, Eddard's Bedchamber - Last episode resolved with Eddard falling to the ground unconscious after a Lannister guardsmen speared him from behind. This episode begins with Ned opening his eyes to the scowling visage of Cersei and the troubled glare of Robert.
The king is forced into the role of unwilling arbitrator as queen and hand square off against each other. The quarrel ends with Robert bestowing an "honorable" bitch slap on the queen's royal cheek.  Robert once again demonstrates his complete inability to make any meaningful decisions as a ruler. Instead of taking sides, he bullies his wife into silence and plays on Ned's honor, ordering him into obedience while resolving absolutely nothing. Then, everything still up in the air, he ducks out of the tough situation and goes hunting! In doing so he inadvertently sets off a chain of events that ultimately brings both he and Ned to ruin.
Vaes Dothrak, Dany's Tent - This scene starts out as it does in the novel, with Dany bathing a dragon egg in a brazier of hot coals. Unlike its counterpart from the book however, the outcome of the scene is drastically different. D&D seem to be taking Dany's belief that she is "the blood of the dragon" a bit more literally than George intends in his story. GRRM has been very specific in the past stating that while Targaryens feel a kinship with dragons, heat and fire, they are in no way fire resistant. One needs only to look to Aerion  Brightflame who died by drinking wildfire to perceive this.
As Dany watches the eggs in the coals, she is overcome by a urge to pick them up. As she does so, Irri sees what she is doing and grabs the egg out of her khaleesi's  hands. Dany, who handled the egg much longer than Irri is unaffected by its heat, yet the handmaiden suffers burns on her palms.
This is the second allusion to Dany's imperviousness to heat (the first was in the bath way back in Pentos). It makes for interesting foreshadowing, but the change is another example of the blunt handling of Dany and her eggs. It's much harder to convey her connection to them in film as opposed to prose, but I can't help but feel that the adaptation handles this portion of the plot a bit too heavy-handedly.
Bran's Dream, Winterfell Yard -  We revisit Bran's dream from episode three. This time the dream goes a bit further with the three-eyed crow soaring off into the dark crypts of the Kings of Winter. It seems that this dream is something of an amalgam between Bran's green dreams and Jon's recurring dream of running through an empty Winterfell. How cool would it be to show a connection between the two with Bran going further into the crypts but when the scene switches back to reality it is Jon that opens his eyes! It would be consistent with some of the visions the Stark children have later in the books.
Winterfell, Bran's Room - Bran is startled awake by an excited Hodor who brings the young lordling his new saddle. It wouldn't have hurt to let Kristian belt out an excited "Hodor" or two as he presents the saddle, but both actors express believable glee at the prospects of Bran getting back on a horse.
Wolfswood - As Bran delightfully canters Dancer around the forest, Robb and Theon have a discussion that provides us with several insights into Greyjoy's character. First off, in typical Ironborn fashion, he urges Robb to avenge his father against the Lannisters. Robb seems more thoughtful, hesitant and perhaps even a little scared of the consequences that aggression may bring. Theon reminds Robb that it is his duty to represent his house now that Eddard is incapacitated. Robb sullenly rebuts Theon that the duty is that of a Stark and not a Greyjoy. This is perhaps the first time I have ever felt any compassion for Theon or any other Greyjoy for that matter. Again, Theon is trying to represent for his foster family, but it seems that everyone whether it be Maester Luwin, Ros, Tyrion or now even his good friend Robb is keen to remind him that he is an outsider. D&D are setting Theon up nicely for the events of episode two. He is still an intolerable braggart that is much too full of himself, but he is slowly starting to become a more sympathetic figure than he has been portrayed in the novels.
Bran, lost in his joy at being able to ride again, has wandered too far away from Robb and Theon. He is accosted by Osha and her band of wildlings. Natalia Tena is perhaps a bit shorter than the Osha I remember, but otherwise looks the part. I felt bad for Stiv and his Spectorian hairdo. I guess it makes sense if you consider the materials on hand for making a toupee north of the Wall.
The wildings begin to cut Bran down from the saddle. Stiv accidentally knifes Bran's leg. The boy's lack of reaction to being cut instantly reminded me of the black foot scene from Mr. Deeds! While Robb and Theon make fast work of the wildlings, the scene unfortunately stands as another example of the inability to make the direwolves work into the script. The scene works fine enough without them, but how much more would it have paid off with Grey Wind and Summer ripping into the attackers?
The Eyrie, Sky Cells - While Tyrion narrowly avoids getting up on the wrong side of the bed in the finished cut, I was able to find an alternate version of this scene with Tyrion and Mord that didn't end so well.
I failed to noticed this last week, but I'm happy that Mord's facial injury was included in his television appearance. It’s a small thing, but every minor detail the television crew is able to include in their version of Westeros helps to make the show feel more like the original land from the story. People in GRRM's world are full of old wounds and deformities. Adding Mord's scar subconsciously reminds viewers of the harshness of the world in which the show's characters live.
The graffiti on the wall was another nice token. "Time to fly" was appropriate, but "The blue is calling" would have been cool too.
King's Landing, Tower of the Hand - I adored this scene between Arya and Syrio for so many reasons. D&D have thoughtfully decided to show us how Eddard's troubles are affecting his youngest daughter. We don't really see Arya take time to worry or be sad for her father until much later on in the events of the story. Syrio teaches her that learning to train in times of trouble is part of mastering both one's waterdancing skills as well as one's emotions.
Arya's progression with her swordplay is growing. She seems much quicker and Maisie is able to portray her parries with enough aptitude to almost make them seem effortless. She is still nowhere near Syrio's match, but she is definitely getting better.
The dialogue also manages to squeeze in plenty of Syrioisms.  Syrio's line about Death being the only god sent a creepy shiver down my spine that brought me back to the statue of Death in the Kindly Man's house in Braavos from A Feast for Crows. Coincidence or veiled foreshadowing?
Vaes Dothrak, Temple of the Dosh Khaleen - Dripping with blood, Dany performs the sacred Dothraki ritual of eating a horse's heart. It makes you wonder if Mola Ram might have started out a Dothraki.  Kali Ma indeed! Dany barely manages to keep it all down, but as she swallows the last bit away, the coming of the stallion who mounts the world is prophesized.
While Daenarys is the focal point of this scene, its Viserys that interests me more. I think this is the first time he truly suspects that his quest for regaining the throne will never come to pass. He sees his sister basking in the glory of her adopted people and realizes on some level that he is incapable of inspiring followers in this manner.
This point is driven home in the next scene as Viserys attempts to make off with the dragon eggs and is thwarted by Ser Jorah. It’s the first time we are given a sense of the pressure that Viserys is constantly under being the last dragon. He has been the final hope of a dynasty since he has been five years old and now he sees his sister taking all of the glory after doing what he perceives as none of the work. Even his only sworn blade (Jorah) has deserted him for Dany. After dropping the first suggestions that Jorah's intentions towards the khaleesi might not be entirely plutonic, Viserys surrenders the eggs and stalks off.
The Eyrie, Sky Cells - Tyrion continues to trick and tempt Mord into giving Lady Arryn a message that he is ready to confess. The spikes to keep birds off the cell walls are nice additions that I failed to notice in previous scenes. It's hilarious to see Tyrion have to tone down his usual persuasive vocabulary in order to present his argument at a level that the dim-witted turnkey can understand. After several failed attempts, he finally manages to convince Mord to present him to Lysa for "confession".
The Eyrie. High Hall - Tyrion is presented before Lysa, and in her vanity, she unwisely assembles her court to watch the confrontation. The script writers have managed to out GRRM George himself with the Imp's crass confession. As good a Dinklage is here, the scene is stolen by Lino Facioli when he utters the line that also serves as the title for this recap.  I'm usually drinking a glass of red wine while I watch a new GoT episode. "What happened next?" was so brilliant and so unexpected that I did a burgundy-colored spit take barely missing my wife's new white linen bed sheets. Through lewd humor and bold arguments, the Dwarf is able to maneuver Lysa into a trail by battle pitting Ser Vardis against Bronn.
We finally see the Moon Door opened and I have to say that I approve of the choice to make it a trap door. The benefits of this alteration will become more apparent later on during the duel.
Kingswood - The first thing I noticed as I watched this scene play out was how well Lancel suddenly got at doing his job. Robert made it through the entire scene without criticizing his squire once.
The trek through the woods was a mixed bag. We were able to see Robert's aforementioned view of his brothers come to the forefront as he goads and chides Renly about his character. Thankfully Renly doesn't back down and ends up letting Robert have it. He then storms off in disgust. After the questionable shaving scene last episode, it is good to see that while he may not be the battle-hardened soldier  that Robert is, he still has enough of a backbone to stand up and defend himself.
I was disappointed at the scope of the hunt. In the book, Robert leads a grand procession into the woods for days of hunting. Budgeting issues probably dictated the reduction of hunt participants, but they missed an opportunity by not including Joff. A few words of rejection by his dear old dad, followed by the young prince "bravely” shooting a mother robin in her nest at point blank range with his crossbow would have gone miles to establish Joffery's sadistic nature.
I felt for poor Ser Barristan as he quietly watched Robert gulp down more and more wine without intervening.
King's Landing, Throne Room - It seems the Lannisters have been busy. Groups of brigands have been scourging the Riverlands. Evidence, and an unusually obvious Little Finger suggest that the Lannisters and particularly Gregor Clegane are behind the attacks. Equally transparent, and agitated Grand Maester Pycelle does his best to defend the lions. Eddard isn't buying it and appoints Ser Beric Dondarrion to bring the Mountain to justice. He also goes one step further here than in the book and orders Tywin to court in order to answer for his bannermen.
The writing and delivery of this scene was off. I think Gillen was attempting to be smug towards Bean's Eddard, but the sarcasm came off a bit too subtle for my tastes. Also, Pycelle is making it a little too obvious where is true loyalties lay don’t you think?
The Eyrie, High Hall - A lightly armored Bronn squares off against a much more encumbered (Dungeons and Dragons-learned vocabulary word) Ser Vardis. Bronn dances around to the jeers of the assembled, but he soon tired out Ser Vardis and takes the initiative (another word learned through role-playing). Great choreography showing Ser Vardis tiring and Bronn getting the upper hand. This scene was near the top of the list for me as far as recreated moments from the books that I was looking forward to and it didn't disappoint.  Ser Vardis' death was an amalgam of the death of Cicero from HBO's other masterpiece Rome combined with the demise of Emperor Palpatine. It might have been even truer to the book fight though if Bronn simply sidestepped a Vardis thrust and kicked the knight out the door while still alive.
King's Landing, Tower of the Hand - Damn you Sansa! I always wanted to know where Septa Mordane was from!
Joff interrupts the conversation between Septa and charge and presents Sansa with a locket. This is perhaps the gesture that Cersei suggested Joff make a few episodes earlier. It works spectacularly as Sansa swoons head-over-heels for the little lying shit! It might have been nice to see the septa do something to cross Joff here. Nothing major, perhaps just a suggestion to wait to enter until the Hand was home for the sake of appropriateness. A small confrontation like this might have served to enhance a certain scene-to-come that takes place up on the top of the Red Keep.
King's Road, Vicinity of Winterfell - Riding back to the castle, Theon spies Ros leaving town on the fantasy-genre cliché of a turnip cart. It's wonderful that Esme Bianco has been given a larger role in the series. Hopefully, D&D will add another new minor character or two in later seasons. I just have to question what purpose this scene served other than to help fill the nudity quota for the episode. If they want Ros down in King's Landing, she could have mentioned she was leaving in her last scene with Theon.  Of all the original scenes so far, this serves the least purpose. I would have much preferred using the time to expand the wildling attack scene or perhaps Robert's hunt.
King's Landing, Tower of the Hand - Eddard informs the girls of his intentions to send them back home much to their chagrin. Arya is worried about her lessons and Sansa is distressed at the thought of loosing Joffery. Maisie's utterance of "Seven Hells" was priceless! Sansa's bleating inadvertently gives Ned the missing puzzle piece to the mystery he has been trying to solve regarding Jon Arryn's death. Using the book for reference, Ned discovers the meaning of "the seed is strong" as he learns the entire Baratheon line with the exception if Joffery has black hair. Using this information, I guess it's safe to assume from evidence in the previous scene that Ros has no Baratheon blood in her either!
Vaes Dothrak, Temple of the Dosh Khaleen - Viserys shows up drunk and armed to Dany's feast.  Pulling his sword out, which is a huge no-no in Vaes Dothrak,Viserys attempts to strong-arm Drogo into paying him the crown he has been promised in exchange for Dany's marriage to the Khal.  In one of the most horribly creative death scenes I can ever remember reading or watching, Drogo is true to his word and "crowns" the young Targaryen with molten gold.  I think that Drogo might have gleaned the idea for the headgear from watching SNL the night before.
Harry Lloyd's portrayal of Viserys took me a scene or two to get used to. The wonderful thing about his performance though was how he grew into and eventually surpassed the character that George created. I am still shocked to admit this some four  days after watching the scene, but I actually felt sick for Viserys when he visibly relaxes and states "That was all I wanted" knowing what was about to happen. Harry did a fantastic job!
Emilia was also splendid as a transformed Dany who knows that she is about to watch her brother die. Her last line was delivered perfectly.
Well, that's all I have for this week. I'm going to take a short breather and try to get on to episode seven before my relatives begin to arrive. LHN OUT!

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