Tuesday, May 20, 2014



“Mockingbird” begins with Tyrion casting about for a champion, and as many of us anticipated, he winds up with Oberyn as a volunteer once Cersei chooses the Mountain.  This is of course only after Jaime turns out to be both unwilling and unable to stand for him, and Bronn has been bought off for a price beyond what the dwarf can hope to match.  And even if he could, well…I still don’t think Bronn would fight against his pal for any price, but if the choice is between a pile of gold for taking a suicide run at the biggest, strongest killer on the continent and the same size pile for simply agreeing not to do any of that, then those scales are not exactly square, are they?

Speaking of the Mountain, this is, I believe, the third actor who has portrayed the brute. It hardly matters, as he’s never been called upon to be more than a hulking physical presence. The new guy certainly delivers on that score, and really, despite a lack of screentime, Ser Gregor Clegane has cast an appropriately-large shadow over the proceedings for years now. In addition to battling Robb Stark and killing Berric Dondarion off-screen for a season or two, his brutality in the sacking of King’s Landing and before has been a major force that has sharpened if not entirely driven Oberyn, Viserys and Dany’s desire for revenge. And as we are reminded this week, it was his abuse that made our favorite Hound who he is.

Which is to say, dapper. As. Fuck.
And the Hound is also a butcher, although he is more capable than his brother of turning his proclivities to merciful ends, as his treatment of the dying farmer (who apparently cultivates fields of figurative thematic dialogue) and protective turns toward the Stark girls have shown.  He’s not a big cuddle-bunny inside or anything, even after we see him practically blubbering about childhood toys, but that’s what keeps him interesting even as he stays bogged in a period-rendition of Curly Sue with Arya.  Of course, it also helps that Arya remains awesome, and is learning to be a proper seamstress with her Needle.  I had high hopes that she would make her way to Braavos to get some more dancing lessons, but at the rate she’s mowing through the more unremitting shitbags on the show, it’s starting to feel like she doesn’t even need them.

Speaking of shitbags, I’ve been generally for the show’s use of one-dimensional villain types on the peripherary, as they can still work as effective foils for the “heroes” even as it makes the larger point that none of them are wholly virtuous when you get down to it.  But there are moments when it goes too far, like when we have to wallow in Ramsay Snow’s sadism for episodes on end, or the master in Astapor whose entire personality seemed to be an elaborate, multi-faceted plea to be viciously murdered.  Another one I’m having trouble getting behind is Commander Thorne’s complete dismissal of the threat posed to Castle Black by an army of 100 freaking thousand men.  I understand that a theme of the show is how the Game makes people so eager to ignore the major apocalyptic threats around the corner.  But this problem is at his door already, and he doesn’t seem to doubt the size of the army (which more people than Jon can attest to), but does seem to think that a roughly 1,000-1 disadvantage is no cause for alarm.  And somehow the other commanders of the Watch seem to agree with him.  I could use some context for what these people think/hope will happen when Mance’s army hits the Wall, but none has been forthcoming thus far.

"The least believable thing about me is that William Atherton wasn't available to play me."
“The least believable thing about me is that 
William Atherton wasn’t available to play me.”
Now, what I expect to happen (not that Thorne possibly could), is that as the Night’s Watch is worn down to a barest nub, one Stannis Q. Baratheon will come charging in with the army he tricked the Iron Bank into funding by saying it was for the Lannisters. And it will be, eventually, in his mind, but the end of last season promised too much about his investment on this front – including “a great battle in the snow” – for it to have completely dropped from his radar now. Thinking about the titles that were listed so repetitiously last week, my guess is that Stannis has decided that before he can become King of the Andals and the First Men, he will have to first become the legitimate Protector of the Realm. Unfortunately, it seems that he has more hardship to endure before he gets there, as Melisandre/the Lord Of Light has some nefarious plan for his young daughter. I really don’t want to see a little girl sacrificed in some sort of heathen blood ritual; however, I am eager enough for this storyline to move past portents and pacing that I’d actually like it to happen sooner rather than later, if it must.

Meanwhile, in Mereen, Dany wears the living hell out of some blue dresses and screws Daario.

Shocker, that
Shocker, that
In slightly more eventful news, Hot Pie bores Pod and Brienne with the intricacies of kidney pie construction, which leads to their discovery that Arya is alive. I hope Brienne finds the younger Stark girl before the elder, as I think she would be a good mentor/protector figure for the girl after the Hound, but they’re all on the way to the Eyrie so maybe there can be one big happy family reunion, give or take one constantly raving, frequently lactating aunt.

I think most of us saw Littlefinger’s offing of Lysa coming; his ultimate designs for Sansa have been about the only clear thing about his motivations since the first season.  And while the girl is no doubt horrified by the awkwardly CGi-ed plummet of her “last” living relative, she may ultimately be relieved that this is probably going to spare her from another engagement to Joffrey 2.0 in Robyn, who makes up in petulance what he lacks in sadistic inventiveness.  The Moon Door is the solution to every problem for the young Lord of the Vale, who is basically the medieval version of that weird homeschooled kid, except with an army of knights at his command.


Or are they now at Littlefinger’s command?  Varys did predict that it would not be long before he had an army to go with his gold and titles, in the conversation that accidentally prompted Olenna to conspire with him to kill Joffrey.  And it would seem he is on the verge of revealing himself to be, as the Spider has long believed, the most dangerous men in Westeros. That is, if he can avoid following his wife out the Moon Door for a bit longer. And hey, it’s not like that scene from last week where Robyn played with the little mockingbird trinket for a minute before getting bored and tossing it out on a whim could be read as foreshadowing anything, right?

But all that intrigue and sexing can wait.  For we have bread and circuses coming our way first, in the form of a Viper vs. the Mountain showdown.  Oberyn may have told Tyrion a story that suggests that no one is really monster when you get to see them up close, but he now has to face off with the closest thing the show has to an actual ogre, at least on this side of the Wall.  And I expect him to triumph, not so much (as I got into last week) because I think Oberyn is a self-evidently bigger badass, but because I don’t think the show would have spent as much time on him if he was going to be swept off the board without impacting the narrative in a more profound way.  And since it would doom Tyrion in the process, I think their cumulative character weight is so much greater than a Mountain’s worth that the outcome is pretty much predetermined.  Right?  Right?  Please tell me I’m right (unless you’ve read the books; then please tell me absolutely nothing).  Because the bit about the Hound refusing to cauterize his wound does remind me that this is a show that once spent a season building up Khal Drogo as this ultimate badass only to have him just get randomly sick and die.  For a series that prides itself on making such borderline perverse storytelling decisions, I know I shouldn’t make such predictions with any sort of confidence.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…
Is it next week yet? Wait, 2 weeks? Oh, come the living fuck on!

Let’s pass some of that time gap reminiscing about some of the old pals we haven’t seen in ages.
Remember Gendry the bastard?

"It wasn't chicken."
“That wasn’t chicken.”

The Blackfish?
Still looking for a tree to piss on
Still looking for a tree to piss on
Stupid Edmure?

"Bro, what did you want from me?  She was totally hawt, bro."
“Bro, what did you want from me? She was totally hawt, bro.”
Mance Rayder?

"No, I totally thought I'd be a bigger deal too."
“No, I totally thought I’d be a bigger deal too.”

Papa Greyjoy?

Jaqen H’Ghar?

"H'Ghar" is High Valyrian for "I'm not gay, but..."
TRIVIA:  “H’Ghar” is High Valyrian for “I’m not gay, but…”
Greatjon Umber?

"Oh bullshit you remembered me."
“Oh bullshit you remembered me.”
Thoros and the Brotherhood?

"No?  It's cool, it's not like I shattered the barrier between life and death or anything."
“No? It’s cool, it’s not like I shattered the veil between life and death or anything.”
Uncle Benjen?

Osha and Rickon (and Shaggy Dog)?

"Yeah, I was pretty awesome."
“Yeah, I was pretty awesome.”

"Yeah, I was a runny nose on legs."
“Yeah, I was a runny nose on legs.”
We miss you all!  Except Rickon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014



“The Laws Of Gods And Men” was a tight, by relative GoT standards, episode that only found time for checking in on a scant 4 plotlines in total.  Noticeably absent from the entire affair was any sight of Arya, Bran, Sansa or Jon Snow – any of the remaining Starks, emblematic among all the houses for being most concerned with traditional concepts of justice and fair play.  It makes sense that this season, which finds the Starks’ influence at its absolute wane, is shaping up to be the most concerned with the difficulty of serving justice in a world ruled so much by intractable class systems and the whims of those who, by way of bloodline or swordpoint, find themselves in power.  Remember that the whole season started with a pre-credits sequence, which had been previously reserved for teasing the White Walker menace that will presumably dictate the entire series’ endgame, depicting Tywin Lannister destroying the blade that stupid, honorable Ned Stark used to dispense harsh but honest justice in the North.  The sword was described as impractically large, and while that is true, that is because its primary function was as a symbol of a concept that by its nature must transcend practicality.  So of course Tywin had it dismantled and refashioned into smaller, more effective weapons.  He is nothing if not a relentlessly pragmatic thinker.

That and a snazzy dresser
That and a snazzy dresser
Practicality is also the ruling concern for the bankers of Braavos, which we finally see in its impressively-CGI’ed glory here. In the first of several tribunals shown presiding over the fates of characters, Mycroft Holmes himself extolls the virtues of hard numbers over more mutable words.  Stannis has a lofty claim to rule a country, but doesn’t have the numbers to back it up.  It takes some quick thinking on Davos’s part to reframe his “king’s” inherent nobility/hard-headedness as an asset to the Iron Bank.  After first running down the future prospects of the Lannisters (even he has to admit that Tywin will keep things locked down pretty well for as long as he’s around), he presents Stannis as the ideal client for a money lender.  Mycroft and co. may be quick to dismiss considerations of justice when deciding who to bet on, but the fact that Stannis does makes him a more attractive horse.  After all, what does a banker dream of, if not borrowers that are honest to a self-destructive fault?

The answer, of course, is nothing. They sleep like 
goddamn babies, on a pillow made of overdraft
 fees, every one of them, every night.
We also, finally!, check in with Yara’s efforts to exact some justice for her brother’s torture and mutilation.  Being Ironborn, her plan is to take it by brute force, rather than through appeals to any higher power or sense of honor.  And she carves a quick, bloody path to him, only to find that the physical damage pales in comparison to the mental scars.  While flanked by two remaining soldiers, her own tribunal that fails to deliver the justice she desired (too much of a stretch?  yeah, probably too much), she is forced to conclude that there is no putting Theon together again, and flee from the unhinged Ramsey Snow.  I still don’t entirely buy Ramsey as a person, but as a one-dimensional villain, his flamboyance certainly stands out on a show that is so devoted to ethical ambiguity.  That he reacts to his castle being invaded in the middle of the night with delight for the diversion is unsettingly effective.  His scenes with Theon still feel more drawn out and sadistic than is necessary to get their point across, however.

In Mereen, with Jorah and Selmy completing her own judgmental trio on the dais, Dany begins to learn that doing what queens do is easier said than…do.  In actuality, it involves attempting to determine how to punish wrongdoing without endlessly perpetuating a cycle of retribution and suffering.  It wasn’t really a question that she would let the nobleman bury his father, as she has every reason in the world to emphathize with the children of the coup d’etat-ed, but one also wonders how long she can afford to pay triple for the damage done by her dragons.  The dragons that represent her power and legacy, but are also forces of nature.  They are uncomprehending and indifferent to any talk of rights or justice, and I did notice that while there are three of them, only one was represented in scene where the goat was flambĂ©ed.

"The Mother Of Dragons officially declares this visual motif stretched beyond its breaking point.  Further pretension will be answered with crucifixion."
“Her Grace officially declares this visual motif stretched
 beyond its breaking point.  Any further pretension 
will be answered with crucifixion.”
Right, so Dany’s quest may be stalled out in Mereen for the moment, but she is attracting more interest in King’s Landing than ever.  The Small Council scenes, for all their constantly shifting roster, have been for my money the most unwaveringly entertaining aspect of the series.  Even after losing Tyrion and adding the empty, unctuous gasbag Mace Tyrell (who sort of doubles up on that suck-up dynamic when sitting next to the deflated, unctuous gasbag Pycelle), the Council manages to remain great by introducing Oberyn into the mix.   While Tyrion offered a sardonic running commentary to these scenes, Oberyn’s heckling has a more arrogant, antagonistic bent that freshens up the dynamic and avoids having them become airless affairs where everyone nods along with Tywin.  And while the lords of Westeros are still underestimating the size and danger of her dragons, it will be interesting to see how they intend to sabotage her camp from afar.  One presumes they’ll start by informing the khaleesi that her top general used to spy on her for them.

But the Council scenes, and also the similarly great one between Oberyn and Varys, are just preambles to the main event of Tyrion’s trial.  There is much greatness here, and the show wisely allots the time to spend the last half of the episode just luxuriating in the performances.  I figure anyone reading this is likely to also be familiar with Alan Sepinwall over at Hitfix. He’s a great critic, but his common refrain for at least the last couple seasons now has been that GoT’s storytelling is too diffuse, and only reaches its full potential when it hunkers down in one place and tells an extended, focused chunk of story, like in the Blackwater and Red/Purple Wedding episodes.  And while I agree that those parts do represent the high points of the show, I do think (with all due respect, as I regularly read and enjoy his work) he’s wrong to want the show to be that thing all the time.
It’s like this: a block down the street from where I’m sitting is Shaw’s Crab House.  Great stuff there, and when I can afford it I will splurge on a lobster dinner.  Now, the lobster is without question the highlight, but that doesn’t mean the experience as a whole would be improved if they switched the salad to another portion of lobster, and the sides to another portion of lobster, and the dessert, and the wine.  That’s not a meal, it’s a pile of sea monster guts.

Buttery, delicious sea monster guts.
Buttery, delicious sea monster guts

These episodes where various storylines and characters converge only stand out because they are exceptions to the show’s rule.  They’re payoffs, whether they come at the climax of a season or not, and payoffs require a set up to work.  And they are even more satisfying when they can tie together really disparate threads; a very big part of what makes Game Of Thrones’s storytelling so satisfying is that it has the ambition to tell its tale on such an insanely-broad canvas, without forgetting that this allows for the highest drama to occur when the action collapses down to a single focal point. But you can’t collapse without first sprawling.

The reason I support the show’s sprawl is that it engenders not just thrilling climaxes, but the sense of unpredictability that I constantly cite as the series’s greatest strength.  With such a wide canvas, we don’t even know (outside of what hints the credits sequence provide to those of us that pore over it each week) what characters we’ll be seeing, or in what context.  If the show were to fall into a steadier, more “focused” back-and-forth structure between storylines, where I knew that one week being a Dany/Theon/Bran/Littlefinger week meant the next would be a Jon Snow/Stannis/Arya/Lannister week, then I would at least subconsciously have a better idea of what to expect as I sat down.  Same if I knew that a character appearing in one scene guaranteed a certain amount of time with that storyline for the episode.  It doesn’t have to be specific details to get me to lean back in my seat a bit.

Anyway, the point of this tangent is certainly not that Sepinwall or those that agree with his take (which many do) are dummies, because the trial sequence is stronger for allowing us to stay in the moment with Tyrion for so long.  Really, the whole thing probably treads too closely to what we saw at the Eyrie in Season 1, right down to the fake-out confession before demanding trial by combat. But it’s brought off by the radical difference in the intensity of Dinklage’s performance, and the novelty of seeing pretty much everyone that Tyrion has had a meaningful interaction with throughout the series, sans Bronn, show up to damn him from the witness box.

Pictured: Radical Intensity
It’s remarkable how little lying they have to do in order to completely condemn him; the only falsehood that any witness tells the Court is Cersei’s whitewashing Joffrey’s cowardice from her account of the Battle of Blackwater. Until Shae takes the stand, at least.  And this threw me for a loop, I’ll admit.  Sibel Kekilli has never been among the top tier of performers on the show, so I’m not sure if the performance was unintentionally opaque or I am just an idiot or what, but it seemed a stretch for her character to return on her own to do this solely out of spite.  I know she was genuinely hurt by being sent away and hell hath no fury and all, but if she wanted to see him dead, that could’ve been accomplished by…doing nothing.  And not exposing herself to the vicissitudes of the Lannisters in the process, which she was given every right to fear.  But I can’t figure an angle she could be playing where thinking that testifying against Tyrion would help him, even if she knew that a guilty verdict would not result in beheading.  So I’m currently assuming that she was coerced, but didn’t resist too hard because it allows her to exorcise some real anger while she’s up there.  And hey, book readers? I’m not looking for clarification in the comments, please and thank you.  I’ll find out in a week or so.

But anyway, man, how about Dinklage’s performance when Tyrion’s had enough of his judges pretending they are seeking justice, and not simply the “truth” that best supports their interests?  And how will this play out?  Is he allowed a champion, like at the Eyrie?  If so, will Jaime fight for his brother or the Kingsguard?  Will Tywin allow Bronn to serve?  If the Mountain arrives to serve as the representative of the Lannisters, will Oberyn be able to resist volunteering on the Imp’s behalf?

Is it next week yet? Oh, come on!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



I love Lena Headey’s performance as Cersei.  Like many of the characters on the show, she seems to be a prototypical fantasy construction – the Evil Queen/Stepmother to Sansa’s Disney princess – but is gradually shown to have more going on beneath the surface.  But I think Headey in particular does a lot to bring things that aren’t even on the script page (don’t know what’s on the book pages, and once again this is not the place to talk about that) to the performance, painting a picture of a damaged woman straining at confines of her gilded prison.  Someone who is constantly reminded what a position of power she nominally holds, but also stymied from wielding that power against any of the people that do the most to subjugate her.  This creates an enormous, believable well of bitterness within her, but Headey never tries to mine this unhappiness for sympathy.  It’s important that we understand Cersei, not so much that we like her.  But of course I like her anyway.

It doesn’t hurt that she gets the best lines in this episode.  Her conversation with Marge manages to be both icy and conciliatory in a way that is unique to the character (the delivery of “Do you think I am easily shocked?” was particularly great), and the scene with Tywin shows him backtracking on his previous admonitions against getting too many ideas in her head.  It’s hard to say whether this is because he’s feeling sympathy for her grief, or just that she has become a more viable confidant with Jamie refusing to contribute and Tyrion (whose intellect Tywin can’t help but acknowledge, no matter how much he loathes him overall) on the chopping block.  It could easily be both.  Regardless, he lets her in on the secret that the Lannisters have been living on credit cards for years, which would probably register as a bigger shock if it weren’t placed right next to some of the things we learn at the Eyrie this week.

Things like ewww...
Things like EWWW…
 But Cersei’s best scene is with Oberyn, who has rapidly leap-frogged the ranks to become one of my favorite characters, and whose outsider status brings a new energy to the scenes in King’s Landing.  While the Lannisters needed a new House to threaten and keep them on their toes following the collapse of the Starks, I appreciate that the Viper and his paramour represent as complete a personality shift as is possible from the austere nobility of Ned and Robb.  Which is not to say Oberyn is without notions of honor, just propriety.  He takes some pride in telling Cersei that they do not hurt innocent girls in Dorne.  Which prompts Headey’s finest moment, as she quietly notes that “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.”  That’s one of those sum-up-the-series lines that would open the episode as an epigraph if this was done like The Wire.

Speaking of, I think with this episode my friends and I may officially stop calling Aidan Gillen “Carcetti from The Wire” and start using just referring to him as “Litttlefinger”.  After an extended absence, Lord Baelish comes roaring back into the narrative with the jaw-dropper that not only did he murder Joffrey (boo hoo) out of sheer deviousness, but he also pulled the strings that set this whole rigamarole in motion by conspiring to murder Jon Arryn with his wife, the loopy widow Lysa.  That was the catalyst that set the entire series in motion, you’ll recall, which reframes the last four seasons as all part of Littlefinger’s grand, if nebulous (best I can tell, he’s sort of generally sowing discord in order to manipulate the major Houses into sapping each others’ strength, allowing him to worm his way into new lands and titles along the way) plan.  It seems as though even the Lannisters were his patsies, although I really thought it had been established that Jaime and Cersei were behind Arryn’s poisoning, such that I was totally blindsided by the reveal.  I hadn’t even been thinking of that as being a mystery that still required “solving”.

"Solving mysteries is for communists, h*******s and r****s anyway."  - Some stupid r****s
“Pssh, actually solving mysteries is for communists, v*******s 
and g****s anyway.” – some stupid g****s
Somehow in the shuffle of reframing Littlefinger as the show’s primary villain, it’s Sansa that once again comes out with the worst of it.  Poor girl just keeps moving from frying pan to frying pan.  It certainly seemed like she had avoided the worst possible fate when the Joffrey broke off the engagement, but now she’s somehow managed to end up in line to marry another demented elfin noble, with a closer blood relation to her and (somehow) even bigger mommy issues than her original intended.  And her aunt is a raving lunatic, who is even more jealous of her youth and beauty than Cersei was (though rightly so, given the way her beau creeps on the girl).  On the I-guess-up-side?, I can’t imagine Baelish intends to let Aunt Lysa live to a ripe old age once he’s cemented his position as Lord Of The Vale.  Between him, her, and young Lord Robin, I expect someone to be taking a trip out the Moon Door before the end of the season.

I know who gets my vote
I know who has my vote
Heck, at this rate, it could be Arya that tosses the little lord lactose down the hole.  While she and the Hound make their way slooowly to the Vale, her list of names grows longer than ever, even accounting for the guy she shanked in the inn, and that Littlefinger has crossed off the biggest one for her.  There isn’t much new here, outside of Maisie Williams getting to show off some pretty slick dance moves.  Arya asserts that she knows how to fight, the Hound growls that the world is even worse than she thinks (and actually smacks her to punctuate the point), rinse, repeat.  As much fun as this pairing has been, I think it’s time for them to actually get somewhere, or for her to find a new mentor figure.  Brienne is heading north on the eye for Stark girls, after all.  And as much as the lady-warrior would be a natural role model for the little sparkplug, I think what she could use more than swordplay tips is a reminder that trying to comport yourself with honor is not the immediate death sentence that her recent family history would suggest.

Indeed, while I realize that it is a primary thematic raison d’etre for the series, I think after a few years the show may be hammering too hard on the “honor is useless and will only get you killed” button.  It’s not that I don’t take the point, it’s that when it gets repeated ad nauseum in so many storylines, it starts to feel simplistic.  And the series’ is strongest when it is reveling in the messiness and relativity of any particular ethos.

This week they even called into question the validity of the "stick them with the pointy end" school of sword-fighting
This week even called into question the effectivness
 of “stick them with the pointy end”
I don’t think, as the show can sometimes seem to, that notions of chivalry and honor were completely nonsensical liabilities even in medieval times.  Rather, they developed out of certain practical necessities, as a sort of primitive check on the abuse of power by those with “armor and a big fucking sword,” and a social adhesive that allows for a family like the “stupid” Starks to rule the largest, roughest of the kingdoms for thousands of years on end.  Meanwhile, Targaryens and Joffreys are cut down left and right in King’s Landing, and a thug like Karl Tanner’s reign over even a small, pathetic harem goes down in flames at the first real challenge.  It’s fitting that Jon Snow, the most resolutely honorable “Stark” left, is the one to bring that reign to an end.  He continues to grow into his role as a legitimate badass and leader of men, and Kit Harrington even manages to look the part when he stalks in to duel with Karl.

"I came here to try not to always have my mouth hanging halfway open like a stupid r****, and chew bubblegum..."
“I came here to try not to always have my mouth hanging halfway open like a stupid g****, and chew bubblegum…”
It’s a nicely choreographed bit of action, shot with clarity and immediacy by Michelle MacLaren*, and the difference in the combatants’ weaponry makes it feel different and interesting to watch even though the outcome is never a question. The only thing to wonder about is how gruesomely Karl is going to get his – and that answer does not disappoint.  But it’s not even the most satisfying kill of the sequence.  It probably ranks a smidge ahead of Rast getting Ghost-ed offscreen, but it doesn’t have Hodor on Hodor showing Locke how little he’d like Hodor when he’s Hodor.  Game Of Thrones is not a show that makes me smile wide very often, but damn if I wasn’t beaming ear-to-ear when the giant’s eyes took on a new focus and he started straining against his chains with purpose. Kristian Nairn is obviously confined to one basic note in this performance most of the time, but that look showed just how scary he could be under slightly different circumstances. Like say, if he were to end up as a giant frozen zom-….no, no, we mustn’t even think about that.

Ah, I made myself Hodor...
Ah, I just made myself Hodor…
Anyway, he snaps the sadistic creep’s head nearly off his shoulders, and it’s pretty awesome, sad look afterward notwithstanding.  Bran decides not to reunite with Jon, and outside of Jojen not seeming very long for this world (I briefly thought the vision of the fiery hand might just be symbolic of a fever, but knowing this show it’s probably a much more literal representation of that character’s end), everything is much as it was before this interlude. Which makes sense, as I have been told (much as I try to avoid any info about the books) that this entire storyline at Craster’s was invented for the show.
Which is great, I think.  The show seems to have been going out of its way this year to give us viscerally satisfying comeuppances for some of its nastiest characters, and fist-pumping smackdowns of the type it had previously reserved for one-dimensional villains over in Dany’s storyline – the death of Joffrey most prominently, but also Arya’s shanking the shitheel in the inn, and now the graphic ends of Locke and the mutineers.  It’s almost like Martin/Benioff/Wise realized that after the Red Wedding, they had reached a saturation point as far as the punishment the audience could possibly stand, and decided that we had earned some pudding now that we’d finished our meat.  And I do feel like I’ve earned it, and or at least that I need to see that the wicked can have it as hard as the good guys from time to time.  I intend to savor it while I can, before the end of the season arrives to heap more tragedy to my favorite characters.  I’m just petrified that it will be Tyrion who ends up taking the loss come episode 9…

But in the meantime, if the scene with Tywin and the preseason trailers are to be believed, we have another fist-pumper to look forward to in an Oberyn vs the Mountain showdown, which seems ancillary enough to the main plot that the Bad Guy can lose without disrupting the show’s MO.  Maybe that’ll even be next week.

So, is it next week yet? Oh, come on!!

*whom I called in my Breaking Bad reviews “the best director working in TV today” – she’s still up there, but if we count ringers from the feature film world like Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and Vincenzo Natali (Hannibal), the competition gets a lot more fierce