Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Book Comparison and Review - Episodes 6, 7 and 8

I know I am behind in my Game of Thrones reviewing. In my defence I have a very good excuse. I am getting married in a couple of days and really haven’t had the time. But after episode 8 and given it’s 1.30am and I still can’t sleep, I am thinking that some words on the subject are in order.

Join me under the cut for a bit of a break down of some of the best of the last three episodes.

Oberyn Martell. I need to start with him because he is one of my all time favourite A Song of Ice and Fire characters and is being played exceptionally well by Pedro Pascal in the show. I’m not only a fan of the Red Viper because he’s all kinds of awesome; I’m also a fan of Dorne and the role they have to play in general. More on that in the future.

In episode 7 we see a magnificent scene between Oberyn and Tyrion where Oberyn tells the story of the first time he ever saw Tyrion. He describes Cersei’s hate for the dwarf and also that Oberyn himself never saw the monster that Tyrion’s sister saw. He offers to be Tyrion’s champion in the trial by combat and face The Mountain. The scene is perfect and indicates some kind of kindred spirit between the two. Pascal is amazing, showing all of the anger and sadness mixed with relief at being able to actually face his sister’s murderer and rapist (even if he cannot get Tywin himself). It was shocking to learn that this scene was Pedro Pascal’s first ever as Oberyn Martell and is clearly an indication of the acting prowess that both he and Peter Dinklage possess.

Cut to episode 8 and we see Oberyn face off against The Mountain. The scene itself and the lead up to it was not needlessly drawn out. It was brutal and fast and mind spinning. I was worried that the show hadn’t really demonstrated just how ferocious Oberyn actually is, but if there was any doubt as to his skill it was definitely addressed in his fighting style and his demands for a confession from The Mountain.

Now, there are many theories as to why Oberyn waited as long as he did to kill The Mountain and whether his rage got the better of him. This would be a reasonable assumption, as the Viper is not known, as his brother is, for his patience. However, I think that a lot more of it has to do with Oberyn trying to implicate Tywin publically, believing that he himself would survive this bout with The Mountain, so that Dorne could take the next step in a plan for revenge. Literally then, Oberyn just got too close to The Mountain and underestimated just how incapacitated he was. The result was an exploded Martell head and very sadly the death of one of the best characters.

This of course sentences Tyrion to execution for the murder of Joffery, which we know that he is innocent of. In previous episodes we see Tyrion spend time with his brother Jamie and we begin to revisit the connection that they share. We get a great scene at Tyrion’s trial of Jamie making a deal for Tyrion’s life and an even better scene where Tyrion loses his temper and demands a trial by combat. His tipping point in that instance was Shae returning and testifying as to his guilt. This is a very big change from the book but I have a feeling that it worked very well for the show and will continue to do so.

The other scene between Jamie and Tyrion in episode 8 is one where Tyrion describes their cousin who had an acquired brain injury and used to endlessly smash beetles. This is not a story from the book series and seemingly has no point. Scratch a little deeper and we see that this is Tyrion admitting, perhaps for the first time ever out loud, that sometimes his intellect which is his greatest weapon is not enough to help him understand the chaos of the world nor to save himself when people do terrible things. This time, he can’t use his wit to get out of his death sentence and that terrifies him well and truly before his sentence is pronounced. Tyrion confides to Jamie because realistically, Tyrion has realised that his fate lies in the hands of others, some that he trusts and some that he doesn’t, all who have greater power than he does in this situation.

Meanwhile, Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen completely knock every single ball out of the park over at the Eyrie. Littlefinger has to explain to the other lords at the Vale what has happened to Lysa Arryn, whom he threw out of the moondoor for attacking Sansa. Although Littlefinger is doing his best to weasel out of the situation, the other lords are keen to hear from Sansa herself, who is posing as Alaynne, Littlefinger’s niece. In a twist from the book, Sansa says she will tell the truth and identifies herself as Sansa Stark. She explains her captivity and describes Petyr as the only friend she had in King’s Landing. She says that he smuggled her away to her Aunt the first chance that he got and that her Aunt wanted her there. She then identifies that her Aunt was a jealous type and went into a fit of rage when she saw Petyr kiss Sansa – a peck on the cheek she lies. She says that Petyr tried to talk Lysa down and says he’s only loved her but stricken, her Aunt flung herself from the moondoor. As Sansa is comforted, she looks at Littlefinger and truly looks like a wolf for the first time.

The best part about this scene in its execution is that the viewer does not know whether Sansa and Littlefinger have orchestrated this cover up together or whether Sansa has actually learned some lessons and started to play the game for herself. We get a second amazing scene where we learn that Sansa lied based on the enemy that she knew – Littlefinger and what he wants. She infers that what he wants is her. This is brilliant as we see Sansa finally coming into her own, learning what she can from Littlefinger and playing rather than being a pawn. We do not know whether she shares any affection for him or whether she is completely using him for her own survival. Only time will tell but it’s a plot line that is definitely of interest!

At the same time Arya and The Hound arrive at the Bloody Gate, so close yet again to reuniting a couple of the Stark’s and are told that Lysa Arryn is dead. This presumably means that The Hound will not get his ransom and Arya laughing hysterically is a fantastic moment in the scene.

Finally, on the bests front, Reek proves to Ramsay again that he can be trusted by foiling Yara’s attempt to rescue him. Ramsay asks Reek to play the role of Theon Greyjoy to lure out some Iron Born holding Moat Cailin. I recently read that Alfie Allen actually auditioned as Reek and this really shows in the scenes this season. He has been absolutely incredible. Reek is another of my favourite characters/plot lines in A Song of Ice and Fire and I was very worried for a long time about how that was being handled. This season has been a lot better. The scene with Theon thinking that he has failed and muttering the word ‘reek’ over and over is painful and perfect. What I am not sure about is Ramsay’s seeming devotion to his father Roose. Sure, Ramsay in the books wants to be legitimised because he hates being a bastard. He’s also a psychopath who will never ever win a man like Roose’s respect or trust, doesn’t have any other skill other than being a blunt instrument and a cruel savage and certainly isn’t looking for fatherly love. We’ll see how it plays out but otherwise; Ramsay is perfectly cast as well.

Unfortunately, the last few episodes haven’t been all fantastic scenes. The story at the Wall is definitely lagging with the impending Wildling attack seeming very long drawn out. Hopefully the execution is better than the build up.

Episode 6 was actually a Stark free episode, which is likely to become a feature in later seasons purely based on the number of new characters and the smaller amounts of information given about certain characters. It’s great to see that the show is starting to hold viewers without the Starks necessarily being at the centre.

Although Dany’s scenes have been really well used and her one exiling Jorah was particularly good, I am not sure about adding the additional love story between Grey Worm and Missandei. While I think it is really well acted and kind of cute, I think that part of Missandei’s charm is her relationship with Daenery’s, which already doesn’t get quite enough attention.

I’m interested to see how the Martell’s will be worked in as the series continues and how different feud’s will actually play out in the world of the show, especially moving into the final couple of episodes of the season!

No comments:

Post a Comment