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Game of Thrones Episode 202, “The Night Lands”

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game of thrones season 2 the night lands

In “The Night Lands,” we get Game of Thrones’ most pornotastic episode yet. As everyone’s expectations are shattered or shifted, we find out one thing I’ve suspected all along: Melisandre goes commando under those crimson robes.

At a rough count, there are nearly 10 different intertwined plot lines in this episode alone. This week, Robb Stark and Jaime Lannister were not to be seen, along with Joffrey and Sansa, and Bran back at Winterfell. Good thing, too. With the blizzard of characters in a given episode, they really need to streamline to make things even remotely coherent. I actually wish they’d focus on, say, half a dozen major characters in a given episode, and let us catch up on the others later on. I feel bad for anyone who hasn’t read the novels trying to keep things sorted out.

For example, this week’s adventures with Arya and Gendry provided a bit of humor, revealed that Gendry knows Arya’s secret (well, not all of it, but she spilled the beans about her parentage quite readily), and introduced us to three interesting fellows in a cage, whom we’ll be hearing more from. One of them is named Biter. Arya expects the soldiers from King’s Landing are coming for her, but she’s wrong – no one is looking for her, as not a single person other than Yoren has any clue where she is. Still, would it have hurt to move all this to another episode entirely?

The first lascivious scene seems quite innocent – Tyrion, Varys and Shae having a little discussion about how they met, and Shae’s cooking. But of course, Varys knows Shae is a prostitute, and Tyrion knows he knows. Tyrion also knows Varys is a eunuch, so saying, “You should taste her fish pie,” was a rather pointed (not to mention filthy) barb. Shae observes that she doesn’t think Varys likes fish pie. Tyrion observes that Varys’ suggestion that he can keep secrets…for his friends…is clearly a threat. Blackmail, essentially. Tyrion’s counterthreat doesn’t go over so big. Yet Tyrion seems much better equipped for verbal sparring with Varys than Littlefinger, who always seemed a bit over his head last season.

To undo some of the damage to the Lannister reputation done by his sister and Joffrey, Tyrion exiles Janos Slynt, the meathead made a lord for arresting Eddard Stark. Mercenary Bronn becomes head of the city watch. This leads us to the other strong theme I’ve noticed – a lot of the Game of Thrones actors remind me of rock stars. Bronn? Lemmy all the way.

When the scene shifts to Daenarys, we get a brief scene that shows just how dire her straits really are. Everyone is starving and dehydrated, just lying there in the sun. Her once mighty khalasar is basically a few loyal retainers, a handful of tents and a lot of sand. So far, Daenarys has gone from a princess in a royal family to an exile with nothing to the queen of a warrior horde to nothing once again. Yet the way she cares for her people speaks of someone with the potential to be a great leader.

It’s interesting how the color palette shifts drastically to help viewers notice changes in location and point of view. It’s fairly neutral at King’s Landing, but in the desert wasteland where Daenarys is, everything has a yellowish tinge. The farther you go north, the bluer things look. North of the wall, it’s very blue indeed, while on the Iron Islands there’s more a washed out, grey look.

Speaking of grey, Theon Greyjoy gets the first serious action in the episode, having his rough way with a seemingly addled girl in the hold of his ship. She flatters him relentlessly and seems to enjoy his clueless sexual performance. Theon’s ego is so inflated he’s convinced a glorious homecoming awaits him when he goes ashore. They haven’t seen him in nine years! His father will be elated! The people will rejoice at the return of their prince! Theon actor Alfie Allen looks uncannily like a young Mick Jagger, which brings to mind a thematically appropriate Stones song, “No Expectations”:

Our love was like the water
That splashes on a stone.

Of course, Mick was probably not writing about fingerblasting his own sister on horseback. I’m putting the blame for that on Yara (changed from Asha in the novels) – she knows it’s her brother, Theon just thinks she’s some admiring Iron Island lass. Maybe she’s a big Star Wars fan. In any case, everyone, most of all Theon’s father, Balon, is decidedly underwhelmed by Theon’s return. We learn that Theon has daddy issues (not to mention sister issues). Yara looks to be quite the badass, though. Actress Gemma Whelan is attractive in a sturdy, earthy way, and makes a fine pirate captain, as House Kraken is known for.

Back in Littlefinger’s brothel in King’s Landing, we get one of the filthiest (and ultimately most disturbing) scenes I think I’ve ever seen in a mainstream TV series. It’s certainly the first time I’ve seen semen on a girl’s face in a mainstream TV series. I told you this episode was pornotastic. First we see a whore having sex. Then we see a man watching that whore having sex. Then we see that another whore is going down on him. Then we see that Littlefinger is watching them. A disgruntled customer is displeased that Ros’ emotions are impeding her performance, so Littlefinger mops up the aforementioned mess and sends that whore off to passionately snowball the aggrieved patron.

Then he has a little talk with Ros. Seems being intelligent and having feelings aren’t hot commodities in the prostitute job market. It’s also a damn shame to see Ros’ generally sex-positive attitude fall apart when she finds out how heinous people are in King’s Landing. Killing babies, torturing whores that are too unhappy for their own good, and so forth. Her choices now seem limited to faking a smile or running away.

Now we move back to Stannis Baratheon, who’s desperately trying to figure out how he can win the war and the crown with a crappy army. Davos Seaworth is taking care of practical matters, hiring an old pirate friend and his fleet to help invade King’s Landing. But how can they possibly defeat Renly’s massive army? Melisandre, the red priestess, has some ideas, but she isn’t letting Stannis in on them yet. She’s content to slip off her robe and give Stannis reason to believe in the god of light. That table, with its relief map of Westeros, surely left a few unpleasant marks on unprotected buttocks. The consequences of that particular romp will unfold eventually, but it’s sufficient to say that it’s…well, not what you’re expecting.

The only truly supernatural events happen north of the wall. Samwell meets Gilly, one of creepy redneck Craster’s daughter/wives, and finds out she’s pregnant and wants to flee. She’s afraid of what might happen if the child is a boy, but won’t tell what that fear is based on. In the middle of the night, Jon Snow discovers the truth – Craster sacrifices baby boys to the white walkers, leaving the mewling infants in the snow to be devoured by weird blue-eyed zombies. That’s probably not what Jon was expecting.

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Posted by on Sunday, April 8th, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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