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Game of Thrones Episode 207, A Man Without Honor

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Game of Thrones 207, A Man Without Honor

Some long-neglected characters got some welcome face time, the bad guys acted like jerks, the good guys also acted like jerks, and the episode title actually makes sense. That makes for a good week on Game of Thrones.

I’ve been pondering how the various factions in Game of Thrones map to real-world politics, or at least where they fall on the conservative-liberal spectrum (full disclosure, I’m what you’d call a pragmatic progressive). Interestingly, where fantasy fiction tends to paint repressive, conservative societies as the bad guys, things are quite a bit more nuanced here. The people of the north, who are ostensibly the “good guys” in A Song of Ice and Fire, are actually very conservative. They worship the old gods. They place military service in high regard, and consistently seek to convince others that more defense spending (i.e. sending more able men to the Wall) is necessary. Consider how much female Stark flesh you’ve seen in a show that’s overflowing with naked breasts and full-frontal scenes – exactly none. They’re all covered from toes to chin at all times. Catelyn Stark doesn’t exactly laugh it off when Jamie Lannister mocks her about her husband’s infidelity.

As Ygritte makes so clear to Jon Snow, the Wildlings are living out their libertarian fantasies north of the Wall. Wake up whenever you want. Sleep with whoever you want. Bang a sheep. Own huge tracts of snow. All this and more could be yours!

King’s Landing is awash in liberal decadence. They’re the ultimate tax and spend politicians, there are whorehouses everywhere, and the upper echelons engage in flagrant sexual perversions. It’s like Billy Graham’s worst nightmare come true. Even Cersei thinks they might be due for some karmic payback. She shows a tender side to Sansa after Sansa has her first period (giving Shae an opportunity to be a bad-ass for a second), telling her, “The more people you love, the weaker you are.” Dig the make-up job on Sandor Clegane. It’s subtle, but the melting really transforms Rory McCann’s face, which is essentially very gentle looking underneath all that. I guess the Hound has had some issues with fire in the past.

Speaking of payback, hello there Theon Greyjoy. You’re a dick and everyone hates you. In fact, I suspect you’re growing to hate yourself. Couldn’t quite stomach the sight of two murdered and roasted children, could you? Even though it was a brief scene and used mainly to set up later events, it was good to see Brann, Hodor and the gang on the run. Hodor is a favorite character in the novels, but if Kristian Nairn’s ability to evoke emotion and subtlety with naught more than a single word and his eyes in this short segment is any indication, he’ll be even more beloved in the series.

Jon Snow spends the entire episode freaked out by sex. Ygritte’s creepy, overly forward seduction results in his capture by Wildlings. It’s clearly like -20 degrees there in Iceland, where they’re filming the north of the Wall scenes. So when she suggested that it’s “warm and wet” and lifted her coat a bit, what was she showing off there? Another layer of wolf pelt? With yet another layer underneath that? Anyway, thank you to Jon Snow for proving my point about the northerners being conservative. “You know nothing Jon Snow.” Especially about doin’ it.

Back at Harrenhal, the producers seem to have caught on to the chemistry between Arya and Tywin. They get another scene that’s pure dialogue, but it’s still one of the best scenes of the hour. Arya has come to be Tywin’s confessor of sorts. He seems clued in that she’s not just a commoner, though she deflects his suspicions easily enough. This was a great way to drop a ton of info on the audience about the history of the Targaryens and their dragons in an interesting way.

Nurse Pointless shows up again, and Robb Stark makes eyes at her. I think I’ve figured out why she’s here. Recall that Robb was promised to one of Walder Frey’s daughters so the Stark army could cross the bridge at the Twins. One might suppose that there will be some conflict in the future regarding those proposed nuptials, and the writers felt there needed to be a stronger motivation beside, “Ugh, I don’t want to marry one of those skanky Frey girls.”

We finally get to meet the infuriatingly charming and arrogant Jaime Stark. He’s had little to say for so long, and it’s only under dire circumstances that his true personality emerges. This Jaime is a bit more of a brutal murderer than the one in the novels, slaughtering his own devoted young cousin for a futile chance at escape. Jaime is very self-aware – he knows he’s an arrogant jerk, and he knows that most people hate him. He also knows that being a rich, noble knight instead of a dirt farmer is a mere accident of fate. That he happens to be good at the things noble knights do is an even happier accident (a concept known as the Lottery of Birth). “It’s a good thing I am who I am. I’d be useless at anything else.” It’s also interesting to contrast Jaime’s cynical concept of knighthood with the idealized version of Brienne, which we discussed last week and it will be on the final exam so I hope you’re taking notes.

Then there’s just the small matter of Dany Targaryen’s missing dragons. She’s sad that Irri died (and so am I, if only because I was kind of looking forward to a certain girl-girl boudoir scene). She puts Ser Jorah in his place. He meets mystery mask lady, who does some kind of reiki tattoo acupuncture shit in her spare time. That particular bit of nudity was deeply, profoundly, monumentally gratuitous, which is the best kind. Then, a twist! Dany has been betrayed, tangled up in Qarthian politics. This whole part of the story reminds me very strongly of Robert E. Howard’s Conan story The Slithering Shadow (I’ve mentioned this before, but only now remembered the name of the story). Even the original title of that story, Xuthal of the Dusk, sounds Qarthian.

In any case, we get a dose of weird horror as the Qarthian warlocks slit the throats of all of Qarth’s ruling oligarchs, then their leader teleports around to the tune of some classic discordant violin music. Looks like Dany will have to visit the House of the Undying – after all, a mother should be with her babies…


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Posted by on Sunday, May 13th, 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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