Hello, everybody, and welcoming to Vicarious Viewing, a regular column here which I hope to use to discuss television and movies. I wouldn’t really call these reviews as much as recaps and my general opinions on them. The shows I intend to cover at the moment are as follows: Game of Thrones, Justified, Person of Interest, Grimm, Longmire, Hell on Wheels, and The Walking Dead.
“B-but, what about other awesome shows, like Breaking Bad! Surely that’s more worth your time, and ours, than Grimm!”
First off, you’re right. Breaking Bad is amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t really become aware of it until halfway through its second season and I never watched it until a few months ago when it went up on Netflix, so I’m behind by half a season. Perhaps, eventually, I’ll get to it. I really want to! I may even do retro-viewings for shows that are off the air (Deadwood and Carnivale are two specific shows I already have in mind). Secondly, Grimm has gotten better. But I suppose that’s not really saying much so…onwards and upwards!
(One more thing before I go on…SPOILERS! I’ll try not to be too specific about certain plot twists and character deaths and so forth, but this week’s episode in particular contained a moment so spectacular that I can’t help talking about it. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!)
Holy crap, was this week’s episode of Game of Thrones unbelievably badass. Especially those last ten minutes.
This is a series that has become known more for making the audience clutch at its pearls or wring its hands than making it cheer, so watching Daenerys (to whom I will refer as Dany from this point forward) finally say “I’ve had enough of this s—” and wreck shop at Astapor was probably the first legitimately crowd pleasing moment in the three seasons it’s been on. ‘Dracarys’ is my new favorite word on TV, because every time Dany says it, something AWESOME happens. I need to find a screen cap of the final shot of the episode for my desktop ASAP. (Edit: Hey, would you look at that…found one! Thank you google and the On Top of It people keeping up the Game of Thrones Wikia page!)
Elsewhere in the GoT universe, we caught up with Jaime Lannister, fresh off the chopping block, literally. He’s feeling a bit mopey about having what is probably his second favorite body part being removed at the end of the last episode. When he falls off his horse and falls into a puddle of mud (that is surrounded by dry land, but whatever…budget), his captors torment him and give him a canteen full of Not-Water to drink.
Watching the scene, it’s very easy to forget that Jaime ended the first episode of the show by committing an unforgivable act, and it’s even easier to forget that his captors serve the closest thing the show has to a traditional “Hero”. But I suppose that’s partly the point. Having read the first three books, I have an idea of where Jaime’s arc is going, and it is very interesting, for such a reprehensible man.
He later refuses to eat, and Brienne of Tarth, his former captor and woman of honor to rival Ned Stark (honor that got them into this mess, much like Ned Stark) reminds him that there’s a whole world beyond his posh position at Royal Court, where people experience loss much worse than his and continue on with their lives. It’s a bit of a tough love moment, and it’s great to watch.
Later on in the episode we are shown a scene in which Varys, a man who had what would have been his first favorite body part removed at a very young age, telling Tyrion, who’s still sitting in King’s Landing waiting for his story to pick up, about the circumstances surrounding his castration. I’m not sure if this scene was intended to echo the loss of Jaime’s right hand, but the writer in me can’t help but see a connection. Where as Jaime is willing to just lay down and die, Varys, a young boy at the time, resolved to survive out of spite and seek vengeance. It’s an interesting play on audience expectations, the soft spoken eunuch hiding a steely desire for revenge versus the more traditionally male Jaime Lannister, who just wants to give up once the status quo of his life is turned upside down.
Margaery Tyrell continues to be awesome as she subtly undermines Cersei’s already faltering influence over Joffrey. None of this material was in the book, but it’s a welcome addition as it actually serves two purposes-giving Margaery (who I understand becomes very important later on) something to do, but also providing Joffrey, the most love to hate character on TV at the moment, some depth. Not sympathy, however, like Jaime…just depth.
We are also treated to another scene with Lady Olenna, another much expanded character from the book, and yet another awesome addition. She’s the take no crap grandma I’m sure many of us are familiar with. When one of the young ladies under her charge shows her the golden rose she’s been embroidering, Lady Olenna tells her it’s a boring piece of crap, and that their house sigil and motto, “Growing Strong”, are boring pieces of crap compared to Direwolves and Krakens and “Winter is Coming”.
This little meeting is interrupted by Varys (verbal sparring between Varys and Lady Olenna…SQUEE!), who greets her very politely. Olenna scoffs and asks if Varys is flirting with her, then wonders, “What happens when the non-existent bumps against the decrepit.” This little exchange leads the beginning of a beautiful relationship as the two take a walk through the garden, discussing how to keep Sansa Stark out of the hands of Petyr Baelish, and Petyr Baelish out of Winterfell.
North of the Wall, things get dicey for Sam and the rest of the Night’s Watch, as hunger and disdain for the wildling Craster lead to a complete cluster f–k of epic proportions. It also provides Sam with the excuse he needs to grab Gilly, one of Craster’s daughters who has just given birth to a son, and run away.
Meanwhile, we catch up with Arya, who gets to where ever she’s going, along with Sandor Clegane, one of the men on her Death List 5-hundred. The Brotherhood of Banners begin flinging accusations of murder at Clegane, but all of the things they accuse him of can be laid at the feet of his brother, Gregor. It isn’t until Arya speaks up that they have a murder to pin The Hound, and he even admits to killing the boy in question.
The scene ends with Clegane being sentenced to trial by combat, which has always worked in the past on this show.
All in all, this was a great episode that managed to move things forward while also sowing seeds for the future. One of the problems with genre television is the propensity to either draw things out too long (LOST, X-FILES) or blow their load too soon, leaving the rest of the series to kind of dangle out in the wind (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA season 3). For a show based on such an enormous book, I’m amazed how much they continue to ADD, rather than take away. Margaery Tyrell and Theon Greyjoy are pretty much non-existent in the book season three is largely based on, A Storm of Swords, yet both have featured pretty prominently thus far. It’s a delicate balancing act that the showrunners are playing at, and so far it’s working. I just hope they can keep it up.