Game of Thrones: The Old Gods and the New reviewed
The Old Gods and the New
This episode turned out to be a crazy one. Which is kind of a redundant statement as most episodes always turn out to be a ‘crazy one’ as the cliffhangers tend to be jaw dropping (shadow baby anyone?). But, this one was all over the place, with healthier amount of violence than us tv viewers are used to. And that’s not all, this episode was probably the single most non-canonical episode to date. But, that’s not a big deal, am I right? Well maybe to watchers of the show that haven’t read, the changes would seem inconsequential to the overall story arc. But I can see some definite backlash, and major dialogues starting and maintaining over The Old Gods and the New. Since it is the tv series, with the blessing of George R.R. I’ll continue to grade the show upon its merit. That being said, I thought this episode was pretty damn great. There have been sluggish moments in the second season, but this episode was action packed, I think that was more intentional on HBO’s part to help inject some energy into the second act of season two.
So Greyjoy takes Winterfell to start the episode off, with Theon displaying an almost smug assurity of what he’s done all the while. He takes the castle only to hold with a skeleton crew, all of this done seemingly to impress the salty ingrates that man the castle walls and his ship. Most of us would think that’s kind of stupid, but Theon obviously thinks that his scheme will impress his father. As we’ve seen in the past few episodes featuring any time with Theon, we can tell immediately how much he wants to end the alienation he feels by his family and people. He’s been baptized by the Iron Born’s Drowned God, given a ship, and on top of that a mission by his father, but this will prove to be of little use to Theon’s ego. He’ll continue to have a sense of entitlement that we were first privy to in the first season with Ros the prostitute. We see the lengths Theon will go to as he sentences Ser Roderick to death, this scene is a complete cutting of ties to his foster family and home.
I just love every scene between Tywin and Arya. As much as I love Dinklage, Tywin’s character overpowers everyone else he comes into contact with including the ever awesome Tyrion. As Arya serves Lord Tywin and his war council we see Baelish enters to speak with him. Of course he’s feeding information to Tywin much like he did with the Tyrells. Obviously he’s a schemer, and even though I’ve read the books I feel like you can never be certain what he’s playing at. What’s the Littlefinger’s end game? To be completely honest I can only scratch my head and speculate that his plans are always changing. He may be the most clever player in the game. BUT, I digress. Enough about how clever Baelish is and back to the Tywin/Arya relationship. It almost seems like Tywin’s developing a fondness for his new cupbearer. But, while you may mistake his fondness or preening at her cleverness for some sort of fatherly sentiment, I would liken it to be more similar to the relationship between a boy and his dog. He views this girl as a new possession that he is willing to interact with, to an extent, but ultimately retains all the power in the relationship. It still makes for an interesting dynamic, because while she maintains a submissive stance to him you can tell she’s just brimming with rebellious hatred. Which makes for an odd duo.
Jon Snow continues to learn harsh lessons in the wilderness North of the wall. First it was Craster and his daughter wives and now it’s realizing that this new North is not his home. It’s a brutal place that would seem a barren waste to any that don’t know the places. And that’s just the lesson he’s to learn as he and the halfhand finally make their sneak attack upon the distant wildlings they spotted in the previous episode. Upon killing all but one, Jon finds himself faced with the reality of executing a woman. He tries to take the task in the fashion of his late father, Ned Stark, only to find he doesn’t have it in him to kill a woman. While that does hamper his survivability in the wild, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to find a character that still has some moral compass in a show where many have none.
Speaking of moral compass, the next scene provides a perfect expample of the opposite of Snow’s morality. Yep, you guessed it, the prick King Joffrey. So, his people are pleading for food, and what does he do? He single-handedly starts a riot that gets his priest ripped to pieces by a horde of people. Literally ripped to pieces, maybe this was the show’s homage to The Walking Dead as proved by the crowd hoisting high the priest’s dismembered arm. But the scene was really owned by Clegane, we can tell he’s got a soft spot, but maybe just buried beneath his black armor. He seems the unlikely hero, but if he were a hero I think we’d have to start calling him the Dark Disemboweler. With perfect thematic timing, Clegane, of course, shows up to slaughter Sansa’s would be rapists and is kind enough to shower her with their intestines. A fitting tribute from the hound.
Daenarys continues to make bold claims to no avail in Qarth. She ever seems the little girl making threats of what she will do and how she’ll burn people. Sure, sure teenage girl, you’re going to burn everybody and take back your thrown with fire and blood. She doesn’t seem to worried about burning bridges (no pun intended). She’ll huff and she’ll puff and…. all the other crap. And then someone stole her frickin dragons! Now this is a new one to me, but I can understand it. Daenarys is important the story, but the problem is she makes for boring television. HBO has to spice up her story line and what better way than usurping her source of power? So, the development is non-canonical, but it certainly does make things interesting.
Very next scene! More divergence from the book… Blasphemy, I say! Arya in a panic for fear of being discovered by Tywin, names her second death wish to her death genie, Jaqen H’ghar. She gives him the name of Ser Amory Lorch. If you’ve read the books you know that’s not her second victim, nor is it Jaqen’s victim at all. While Amory Lorch does meet an interesting end, it’s something we won’t get to see in this show. While I’ve enjoyed scenes with H’ghar, I thought the dying in the doorway was pretty lame. HBO, you can do better. It just seemed a very cliché thing to do and for a show that doesn’t mind killing off major characters in cavalier fashion this seemed altogether uncharacteristic of the show’s style. So just don’t do that anymore HBO. It’s lame.
Robb and Catelyn are reunited whilst he converses with Lady Talisa, different name from the book but basically seems to be the same person. They changed it, whatever. Her being a different, but essentially the same person won’t necessarily change anything storywise from what I can tell. But, who knows I may eat those words if HBO decides to throw a curve ball on the Rob Stark love interest. This scene was interesting in one regard, the giant elephant in the room, and by giant elephant I mean the giant woman clad in steel armor. How did Robb not notice the woman knight Brienne of Tarth towering ove both he and his mother. I mean seriously, that’d be my first question, hey mom, who’s that giant dude…. urrghh I mean lady with you?
So, who wins? This ones tough, Theon becomes a backstabbing turd, Jon Snow is still running around in the North, Daenarys is trying her best to intimidate everyone, and Arya is chilling out at Harrenhal with Tywin and spicing it up with a little assassination here and there. So who’s it going to be? I’m conflicted, after reviewing though… I’m going out on a limb here and giving it to the Dark Disemboweler. Yep, Sandor Clegane, just blame this call on the action junkie within. Maybe next week’s pick will be a little more cerebral.