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Game of Thrones Episode 206, The Old Gods and the New

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Game of Thrones 206, The Old Gods and the New

In this week’s episode, nothing terribly unexpected happened, unless you count all the drastic (and sometimes bizarre) ways the series is starting to diverge from the novels: random nurses, kidnapped dragons, and slightly less rape.

Things start off with Theon Greyjoy’s brave storming of Winterfell, sneaking over the walls in the night and wrenching it from the old men and children who’d been left to protect it. Then he proudly claims his title as a prince from a crippled 10-year-old. Theon’s not even terribly good at executing old men. It seems his hold on Winterfell won’t last long, since Maester Luwin gets a raven off to Robb Stark, who quickly makes plans with Roose Bolton to send Bolton’s bastard son to retake Winterfell. Plus, Theon gets taken in by the Wildling Osha (never thought you’d see Tonks do a full frontal scene, eh Harry Potter fans?) who helps the remaining Stark children and their wolves escape. If the first novel in the series creates the illusion that the story is strictly about the Starks, it’s right around this point in the second novel that you begin suspecting that that isn’t the case after all.

Jon Snow is out ranging with Qhoran Halfhand, trying to find Mance Rayder and figure out why he’s amassing an army of Wildings. They ambush some Wildling campers, and Jon meets Ygritte, a cute, freckled redheaded girl. He’s unable to execute her, and does just as terrible a job of not executing someone as Theon did actually executing someone. That’s a great way to ruin your fancy sword, bastard. Ygritte escapes and Jon chases her around the frozen wilderness like an idiot. It is the slowest, dullest chase scene ever filmed. They get lost and have to sleep on a random rock, huddled together to avoid freezing to death. Jon angrily hugs her, then protests futilely about Ygritte’s wiggling ass.

Arya’s plot has been going steadily off the rails since she left King’s Landing, and this week things went far astray from the novels. We already missed out on the Brave Companions and accelerated Arya’s stay at Harrenhal directly past her time in the kitchens, linking her up with Tywin Lannister. Her interactions with him have been most entertaining, and help make Tywin less of a cardboard villain, so I can’t complain about this too much. Arya even gets the best line of the episode again, when Tywin asks what her father died of: “Loyalty.” Of course, having Littlefinger show up to explain the Tyrell/Lannister situation to Tywin and nearly recognizing Arya was a very different twist, but he ultimately did not seem to place her (or were his words at the end about Lady Stark’s daughter said with a little extra emphasis for Arya’s sake?). I thought it would be cool for Arya to engage in some cloak and dagger action, stealing Tywin’s battle plans, but she runs around the castle with the plans sticking out of her hand like a dolt. This forces her to call in another murder from Jaqen, who manages it with unlikely alacrity and style points.

Robb Stark engages in pointless flirting with a pointless made-up character in a pointless scene. It’s ok, show, it’s not as if there’s anything else important going on in the world. Take your time. We’ll wait.

Ok, is the pacifist nurse gone? We can get back to the actual show now? Ok.

Back at King’s Landing, Tyrion seems to have got his way, sending Cersei’s young daughter off to Dorn to both cement an alliance and keep her safe. Cersei continues to be portrayed as a bitter idiot – to be sure, she is a bitter idiot, but the show makes her feel rather one-dimensional. Tyrion’s point about safety is borne out as the smallfolk riot, hitting Joffrey in the face with cow shit (you cheered…we all did). The riot here seemed somewhat small in scale, though perhaps we’ll see the broader effects later. The gangrape of Lollys Stokeworth was omitted – instead, Sandor Clegane rescues Sansa Stark from rape, creating a bit of a bond between the two. The whole incident provided another opportunity to see Tyrion slap Joffrey, but it was really only about 6 out of 10.

Daenerys’ story is changing in Qarth as well. Her meeting with one of the rich merchants felt a bit off-key. The merchant’s logic was impeccable – he uses his ships to make money, so loaning them to Dany for an uncertain return that might be a long time coming would be a terrible investment. Dany came off as a spoiled brat. “And then this one time I went into a big fire and everyone said I was crazy, but then I was ok, and I have these dragons, and I’m a Targaryen, and did I mention I have dragons? Also, I’m called the Mother of Dragons. Dragons.” On returning to Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s estate, they find everyone massacred and the dragons have been kidnapped. What the what?

This episode did a good job trimming down the points of view – no visits with Varys or Ros, no jump cuts to Theon’s sister, nothing to speak of with Brienne, Renly’s dead of course, and we heard nary a word from Stannis, Davos or Melisandre. But without Melisandre around, and no particular mention of deities in general, it makes me wonder why this episode was titled, “The Old Gods and the New.”

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Posted by on Sunday, May 6th, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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