Monday, April 14, 2014
The Lion and the Rose
This week, a number of characters sat on the bench in order to make room for the ones we didn't get to see in the premiere. Of those, I'm particularly intrigued to see what the show is going to do with Bran. His story slows down considerably in this section of the book, with very few chapters dedicated to him. On the show, they're either going to have to leave him unseen for several episodes at a stretch, or invent some new storyline to involve him in.
The show appears to be taking the latter approach when it comes to Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos. The material between Melisandre and Stannis' daughter is entirely new, and seems to be laying track for at least another episode or two. Shireen is set up as a willful little girl, but not insolent to the point of falling out of her father's favor. (Something you definitely don't want to do.) Is Melisandre going to mold her? Break her? How? It's fun to see something depicted on the show that I don't know from the books.
Somewhere between the books and new invention is the material with Theon/Reek. As I mentioned last season, readers didn't get any of him in books three or four. Book five fills in or implies the broad strokes of the horrors visited upon him, but it's an entirely different thing to see them played out. Alfie Allen has an entirely different acting challenge in playing Reek, and is rising to meet it. The scenes at the Dreadfort were very well written. Even knowing Theon was not going to slit Ramsay Snow's throat, the shaving scene was still fun and tense.
But naturally, the most tension of all was in watching the wedding and its reception unfold. There were wonderful performances throughout. Lena Headey excelled as a petulant Cersei, and Pedro Pascal as Oberyn perfectly delivered the barbs that worked her into such a foul mood. Sophie Turner delivered several beautiful moments as Sansa with little or no dialogue, from the pity she took on an embarrassed Tyrion to the horror she contained as she watched Joffrey's awful show unfold. Peter Dinklage too was great as always, trying to endure Joffrey's torment (and he was even better earlier in the episode as he turned on Shea to make her want to leave King's Landing). But a special nod must go to the departing Jack Gleeson, as the departed King Joffrey. His final episode was a showcase of why we all loved to hate his character so much.
Of course, the episodes of Game of Thrones with these huge story developments have a leg up on becoming favorites. Nevertheless, they still have to be executed well... and this one was. This episode gets an A.