GAME OF THRONES “Fire And Blood” Review


GAME OF THRONES “Fire and Blood” Season 1 Episode 10 – And so ends one of the most ambitions first seasons of a television show, ever. The finale ramped up the stakes for each of the characters we’ve grown to love (and love to hate) while still setting up for season two without appearing to be fixated on setting up the second season. That is, shit went down in this episode, but we’ll have to wait until 2012 to see the consequences.

This episode dealt with the aftermath to the death of Ned Stark. Reading the books of course the fallout to Ned Stark’s beheading is huge. The television show, however, succeeds in likening it to the assassination of Ferdinand, the great catalyst to all-out war.

The unasked question is intriguing: how much can one man do?

He can protect his daughters. With Ned gone, Sansa has been left to the sadistic temper of the truly hateful Joffrey. The last scene was a brilliant showcase for both Jack Gleeson (who has impressed all season long) and Sophie Turner, whose Sansa Stark has finally shed the innocence and naivety and become a hard, brittle young woman whose life is now surrounded by grief and despair. Her brief thoughts of murder added a shade of strength to her character: she is not just a victim and Sophie Turner really impressed, showing the depths of her character, revealing a calculating mind with hardly any dialogue.

Meanwhile Arya has it quite a bit better. At least she doesn’t have to stare at her father’s head on a stick, or endure the jackass leers from Joffrey. Instead she’s heading up north with a bad haircut, a sex change, a new identity as a boy called Arry, accompanied by a crowd of murderers, rapists and thieves. Oh joy!

What else can one man do? Well, he could be a bargaining chip and stop a war. With Ned Stark dead, there is no one of equal importance to Jaime Lannister, now captured by the Starks. Catelyn and Robb’s reaction to the death of Ned was without doubt the best in the episode: coming across her son futilely whacking at some poor tree, Catelyn hatches a plan: first they get Robb’s sisters back. Then they kill them all. Yay! It also led to one of the most fist-pumping scenes in the entire season with the Stark bannermen declaring Robb “the King of the North!”

Tywin Lannister sends his son Tyrion to King’s Landing to become the new Hand of the King after Joffrey’s gigantic fuck up. If Peter Dinklage does not get nominated for an Emmy, I vote we unite the lions and direwolfs and go all Joffrey on their ass (the voters the Television Academy, of course). His performance has been stellar all season, and in this episode we got the rare sign of emotion as his father tells him that “you’re my son” and the glorious hilarity as he bitches to Shae (who is such a great scene partner for Dinklage), calling his father many an unkind thing.

Once again, the issues of duty and honor collide as Jon Snow makes a small attempt to leave the Wall and join Robb Stark. He fails: his new brothers catch up to him and bring him back. For Jon Snow, the season has been about accepting his new family. By the end of the episode he has not entirely forsaken his old one: he ventures off with a company of the Night’s Watch over the Wall to find his uncle.

A few characters have suffered the conversion from book to television, none more so than Bran and Rickon, the latter of whom we saw about three times in the entire run of the show so you’ll be forgiven for doubting his existence, the former, quite an important character in the books, is barely more than a catalyst here. Aside from getting the news of his father’s death, he had precious little to do, even in this episode.

Going back and forth between each character could have felt very shoddy, but it made me realize just how much I loved the characters. However, there was really only one significant arc in the entire episode and that arc belonged to Dany. Even with Peter Dinklage stealing every scene each week, I think Emilia Clarke is the actor on the show most deserving of an Emmy nod. Her work each week is extraordinary, the depth and growth of her character has been wonderful to watch and she has added layers to Dany that make her strong, vulnerable, unpredictable, and exciting.

Waking up, she’s already having a pretty shitty day. Her husband Khal Drogo is in a catatonic state because she meddles with some dark magic which leaves him without a soul and her without a baby. The baby was a monstrous, scaly thing whose skin came apart at a touch. The mutiny of Khal Drogo’s followers has taken effect: just a few scattered remain. Her plans of conquering the Seven Kingdoms and reclaiming the Iron Throne seems to have been snuffed.

So what does she do? Why, what any sensible person in her pickle would do. She kills Khal Drogo, burns the witch alive on his pyre, then steps through the flames in front of all of her followers. The next morning Jorah and her followers find her, crouched in ash, unscathed, unburnt, three fucking dragons clinging to her body. Holy cow!

First of all, those dragons need to get an Emmy. Fuck it, they need an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, a SAG, an MTV Awesome Awards and the 2012 presidency. They are just ADORABLE! (Clearly I’m in a sound state of mind).

If you’ve read the books then you knew how the episode was going to end, and the way Alan Taylor (easily the best director the show has managed to nab) shot the final scene was pretty damn good. Having this arc run throughout the episode gave the episode a balance so that it felt less scattered. A season finale should leave you drooling for more, and this was certainly put my television screen in jeopardy as Spring 2012 flashed on screen and I realized that I would have to wait a whole year to see the follow up episode.

As a fan of George RR Martin’s creation, Game of Thrones was a delight to watch. The show had some faults, namely the sexposition which really made me very uncomfortable, not because I have a thing against graphic sex on screen, but because it was always a naked woman objectified. Every. Single. Time. And it made Martin’s books look the worse for it. But in the last few episodes the show managed to correct itself: we still had plenty of nakedness, but now it wasn’t a five minute long Littlefinger lesbian action. Hopefully next year we’ll see more of the latter and hopefully we can dispense with the doggy style.

Casting the series, I really think David Bennioff and DB Weiss did a phenomenal job. What changes they did make to the characters-age wise-made total sense. They did an extraordinary job keeping to the books while clearly making this a faithful adaptation. It was not Watchmen. It was, well, it was Game of Thrones.

Most importantly, they made a show on HBO which I fell in love with, hook, line and sinker. I love the series just as much as the books and I really hope that it opens the door for fantasy on television. (Speaking of which, what would be your dream fantasy-or sci-fi, we can be inclusive to all nerds) adaptation for the silver screen, knowing that after the success of Game of Thrones, HBO is adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods?)

Overall, a fantastic series. Not, by any means, a perfect one, but this gives me great hope for the future: now that the creators know to avoid the mistakes they made in season one. Now they don’t have to establish the characters, only build upon them. If the latter half of season one is any indication, season two is going to kick ass.

What did you think of this episode and of the show as a whole? Sound off in the comments below.

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