Monday, April 07, 2014

Two Swords

Game of Thrones has returned, and it will never be the same (or at least, the theme song certainly won't) now that I've watched the South Park trilogy that ran last November. Fortunately, the quality of the show remains as strong as ever, strong enough to drive the satire from my mind.

The big new development of the episode was the arrival of Oberyn, "The Red Viper," in King's Landing. While I've heard one or two people mention him as a beloved character, he never really quite popped off the pages of A Storm of Swords in my mind. I'd thought that perhaps this was just all the years that had passed since I red the book, except that my boyfriend (who has just finished reading the book within the last few months) wasn't sure he'd even read about the character. (He definitely has.)

The good news is, based upon his first appearance here, Oberyn is not quickly going to fade from anyone's mind. In a show filled to bursting with dangerous characters, he instantly made an impact as one of the most dangerous. The scene in which he lays out his quest for vengeance to Tyrion was chilling and effective. I'm immediately more invested in his storyline than I was reading the book.

Interestingly, this wasn't the only character who made a better impact on me in this episode than in the book. Poor old Sansa Stark. As a reader, I spent most of my time silently yelling at her to just get up and do something. Of course, that's not her nature, and eventually I gave up even mustering hatred for her. But the series is finding ways to give her small victories that keep her likeable, such as this episode's callback to the man she saved from execution. It was a wonderful little scene that had the added bonus of reminding you that the world of this story is also filled with countless people also affected by the struggle for the throne.

Across the ocean, Dany's story is on a collision course for the reason that it took George R.R. Martin 11 years to publish more chapters about her. Ugh. The show runners have done a good job fixing up some of the potholes in Martin's road, so I'll be curious to see just what they do with the story of Meereen. They've already made Daario Naharis a more interesting character -- and this despite the fact that they had to recast the actor for this season. We'll see.

More fun villainy from Tywin. More wry wit from Lady Olenna. More humiliation of Jamie that you shouldn't pity him for, but you do. All fun stuff. But they saved the best for last when they presented the continuing road adventures of the Hound and Arya. Arya is turning into quite the little psychopath. Yet while the show really does serve up more blood than you could ever want, there's still something wonderfully satisfying about seeing her get a moment of vengeance. Yes, child, give in to the Dark Side. Of course, the Hound is every bit as interesting. I suspect that it's not for the first time this season that I'm calling their scenes the best of the episode.

A strong start to the year. I give "Two Swords" an A-.

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