ūüĆė Screen Rant ūüĆí 15 Beloved TV Characters That Everyone Used To Hate

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The Odyssey Online- Fourth Issue

The 2015 Alterna-Emmy Awards

From Theme Songs to Title Cards, Here’s A Look at the Best of TV’s Most Taken For Granted Features

The Odyssey Online

While some of these categories actually do exist in the real Emmy Awards, you’ll never see their winners announced during the Live telecast on Sept. 20. In honor of those stalwart constants of every episode, here’s an unofficial award show devoted entirely to them.

Rules: While any parallel awards with the actual Emmys (like the one for theme song) were taken into consideration, the only requirement for Alterna-Emmy nominees was that they be from shows currently on the air or just ended (as in eligible for this year’s award ceremonies, regardless of whether ultimately unfairly snubbed).

Let the show begin!
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Review HBO’s Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” (Season 2, Episode 9)

[Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for this episode and any episodes preceding it]

A few thoughts on this much hyped about penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, as I catch up on the show via DVD.

 

“Blackwater” has a high reputation for a reason. Centering around the season’s long anticipated battle of¬†Stannis’ men¬†vs. Joffrey’s, it unprecedentedly drops the show’s usual routine (of¬†hopping across Westeros to include multiple settings) for a complete focus on a single location and conflict. This¬†deviance¬†from form works because (while the¬†hopping is often effective at laying out¬†the simultaneous threats to¬†a world whose seven kingdoms¬†all believe their war the more menacing,¬†immediate danger)¬†it¬†sets the episode apart early on as something new. By staying in King’s Landing the entire time,¬†the graphic swordplay and prolonged examinations of¬†how¬†established characters hold up in¬†an extreme¬†situation¬†get to have¬†viewers’ full (not divided)¬†attention.

Another argument for why this episode¬†was right in revolving around¬†a single¬†battle¬†goes to the¬†fact¬†that¬†its outcome¬†will determine whether Joffrey¬†gets to keep his illegitimate crown or not. As pleasant as it would be¬†to¬†witness the twerp’s¬†downfall, his life¬†wouldn’t be the only one¬†damaged by a change in power that might not even be¬†an improvement¬†over his¬†own incompetent reign. Not enough is known about Stannis¬†to tell what kind of a¬†king he’d make* but, unlike the Lannister-Stark¬†rivalry, this confrontation’s scope¬†encompasses the entire continent. Unlike Dany’s newborn dragons and the North’s White Walkers, this feud over the Iron¬†Throne has public¬†notice and investment¬†deserving of¬†a full episode without interruption to unfold properly.
 

* Despite being King’s Landing’s “big bad opposition”, Stannis remains an enigma, especially since¬†everyone’s description of him consists around the same faint¬†details that he is:

a) a formidable war opponent

and

b) the cold,¬†unemotional rightful heir to his brother’s throne (viewers may particularly remember a certain Stark who would¬†never drop¬†the “rightful heir” designation until it was too late).

It’s not¬†that viewers¬†lack¬†an¬†inclination¬†to learn more about him. If anything, his friendship (or at least deep respect) for Davos implies that¬†there is¬†more to¬†discover. He¬†cannot¬†be entirely incapable of emotion, for if he were he would never have designated¬†Davos as his future Hand. An¬†honor of that caliber¬†rarely falls on lower class citizens with onions for sigils.¬†Davos may have proved¬†himself an¬†asset¬†at the holding of¬†Storm’s End, worthy of promotion¬†(if his seemingly grim fate at the hands of wildfire proves false), but¬†he is not¬†the typical or popular choice for¬†Stannis to have made.
 

A Few (Un)Surprises


This episode could have failed¬†if not for the strength of the King’s Landing cast, because at times it is quite predictable.

The main non-shocker¬†is that given the smallest excuse (his mother wants to see him)**, Joffrey¬†is going to cower away from the fighting, leaving Tyrion¬†to take charge and save the city***. Yet for being such an expected change in command it couldn’t be more entertaining because Peter Dinklage¬†owns this phenomenal role completely.

The Multiple Talents of an Imp

When¬†Tyrion gives¬†an improvised, rousing speech to the army,¬†he’s an orator. When he¬†takes advantage of¬†his height, attacking¬†an¬†enemy soldier¬†by chopping off his leg, he’s a fighter. When he¬†thinks up with a way to use the wildfire his sister ordered mass-produced that doesn’t end with King’s Landing in flames¬†(hands-down coolest, most horrible scene¬†of the episode), he’s¬†a genius. Every viewer¬†knows¬†of his ability to adapt and then excel, but, while for all intents and purposes¬†there is nothing at which Tyrion cannot achieve and we viewers¬†should have long grown bored with his repeated successes, the situations he finds himself in don’t warrant¬†such¬†confidence.¬†¬†They are¬†legitimately dangerous, and the show never shies away from illuminating on the many real disadvantages that stand between him and victory, making his ability to surpass them all the more remarkable.

It would be easy to shrug away his luck as a¬†byproduct of his last name, but¬†no family lineage can guarantee¬†safety, and Tyrion¬†doesn’t come out unscathed here (note the getting knocked out by a nasty sword slash to the face part). Yet while I¬†know I should be more fearful¬†for his health, there’s an overconfidence that comes with Tyrion being such a survivor.¬†Despite knowing¬†how¬†scared and unprepared he is for what’s coming, and that characters can and do die on Game of Thrones, viewer¬†idolization¬†makes¬†the beloved Tyrion seem invincible.

 

** She¬†may have provided Joffrey¬†an¬†out but it is her younger, sweeter son, Tommen, who she comforts in person, sitting¬†with him on¬†the Iron Throne. At one time both her sons would have been at her side, but I don’t think it’s the fact that the king might lose reputation by running to his mommy that stops her from being with him now.

*** This decision on the boy king’s part was made ever more pathetic when second cousin, Lancel, never celebrated for his¬†bravery, turned out to be¬†the bigger¬†person who stayed and fought¬†when not¬†busy¬†delivering¬†updates to Cersei.¬†Lancel¬†would never have had the cleverness of Tyrion¬†to win the day (his misconstrued¬†understanding of¬†which way the fighting was¬†heading¬†almost leads¬†to¬†Cersei euthanizing her son), but at least if he¬†had been¬†king he wouldn’t have abandoned his men, knowingly derailing¬†moral in the process.
 

The Effects of Alcohol on a Queen

Queen Cersei LannisterWhile¬†Tyrion’s¬†having a showcase of his¬†typical awesomeness,¬†Cersei’s¬†ensuring¬†no one has any doubt she’s unhappy with her¬†familiar notes of¬†depression,¬†distinguished slightly¬†from past displays of displeasure by including public drunkenness into the fold. More is gone into about how gender lead to¬†her and Jaime¬†being raised for two very different futures,¬†and how she would have much preferred¬†Jaime’s¬†“great swordsmen” title to her¬†own “queen”. My favorite moment has¬†to be¬†her expression of complete disdain and impatience¬†for Maester¬†Pycelle, the council member who has always been her ally yet seems to have lost her favor since his arrest by Tyrion, or was simply a necessary bother who, in this stressful time,¬†cannot¬†be tolerated¬†or¬†cordially¬†conversed with. Not necessarily new ground for Cersei, but¬†she’s definitely unraveling¬†and Lena Heady¬†gets to have fun with both¬†her character’s¬†dark humor and¬†dark¬†moments in general (like just how far Cersei is willing to go if the war doesn’t turn in their favor). She’s always been a complicated lady, ¬†mother first.¬†The different layers to her character¬†never stop¬†coming.
 

The Other King’s Landing Players

– Varys¬†bates¬†Tyrion¬†(and viewers) with the story of how he was cut, only to hold back on that information for another day.¬†Then, while still¬†unable to ever¬†be trusted, he gets the chance to be as decent and genuine as he’ll ever be¬†in¬†complimenting Tyrion¬†as the¬†only person who could possibly¬†bring this city¬†a victory. Of course this¬†offer of support¬†goes hand in hand with¬†the scene’s hints that he abuses young boys, so he’s still a snake, but his dynamic with Tyrion¬†is his most friendly with anyone (at least while Tyrion’s¬†Hand; even if he¬†believes him to be the best at the job,¬†¬†Varys¬†will¬†swich¬†Lannisters¬†if¬†Tywin wants¬†to take over the¬†position¬†upon his¬†return to¬†King’s Landing).
 

~ SIDENOTE ~

Tywin¬†Lannister¬†and Loras¬†Tyrell¬†are working together: there’s a surprise that could have used a¬†bit more warning¬†than¬†the¬†two of them making a¬†grand¬†entrance into the throne room at the close of the episode. Then I wouldn’t have had to spend all that time attempting¬†to explain the sudden appearance of horses¬†into the fray as the somehow surviving cargo¬†off of Stannis’ ships. I never realized the riders were¬†on King’s Landing’s side. Completely missed the connection that one of the knights (Ser Loras) was wearing Renly’s¬†antlered helm. Was, in other words, blindsided by the reveal, a fantastic unexpected alliance**** which was¬†brought¬†to light too last minute to be enjoyed fully.

All that would have had to be¬†altered to make this moment truly awesome would have been¬†a quick¬†shot¬†clarifying that¬†these men on horseback¬†joined the fight¬†from a different direction or entrance than Mud Gate. Who they were and who they were fighting¬†against could have been kept ambiguous, but simply an acknowledgement that these were not more of Stannis’, or even Joffrey’s, men,¬†that these were some outside force joining in, would have sufficed in making this the great moment it should have been. Or maybe I’m wrong. Was this an obvious fact all along that I simply got confused about in all the commotion?
 

**** Though then again not that¬†unexpected given Loras¬†would do anything to avenge Renly’s¬†death, which he blames on Stannis
 
 

– Podrick¬†suddenly shows up as Tyrion’s¬†squire (or more likely was¬†always there¬†and only¬†gets¬†directly acknowledged¬†for the first time as someone¬†Tyrion¬†trusts to be in the same room¬†as¬†a¬†map of secret underground tunnels) but what an entrance, to follow¬†a brief introduction up with saving Tyrion’s life. Somebody’s getting a promotion…

– I am finally coming around to liking¬†Shae, since she didn’t take the opportunity to run for safety¬†with Sansa, but rather stayed behind to say “goodbye” to someone. Granted, she could still have a trick up her sleeve and have avoided mentioning the name of that someone,¬†not¬†out of¬†concern¬†for keeping her¬†hidden¬†relationship discrete,¬†but because there is¬†someone else. It’s easy and desirable to jump to the conclusion that¬†she must be talking about Tyrion… and yet I’m starting to give her the benefit of the doubt that she does really¬†care for him.
 

And the Best Performance of the¬†Episode Award goes to…

…two individuals who I feel this episode featured spectacularly. Ironically enough, they are the¬†same two individuals who would have participated in a duel to the death if the pesky Baratheon invaders hadn’t interrupted their plans.
 

The Hound

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane

I believe this is the most¬†extensive dialogue Sandor Clegane’s¬†ever had on the show. Not only does he sever ties from the crown after years of alliance and service by cursing out Joffrey¬†and quitting his position as member of the King’s Guard, but he than shows up in Sansa’s¬†room to offer her¬†safe transport to Winterfell under his protection.*****

These are all great character moments, but why I really think the Hound deserves special mention this week is for Rory McCann’s facial expressions when¬†the man on fire¬†walks towards him.¬†His looks of sheer terror¬†combined with¬†the sight¬†of an¬†unbeatable killer being left physically frozen by this sight, after all the terrible things he’s seen without qualms¬†just a wow performance******. I mean, of course the Hound should be afraid of fire. There isn’t a more obvious¬†thing for him to fear than that which left his face horrifically burned. It simply never occurred that the Hound could be afraid of anything. After all, he had no fear stepping in to fight his brother, Gregor, at the Hand’s Tourney in season’s one, “The Wolf and the Lion,” and he’s the guy who¬†held his head to the flames.¬†That¬†such an¬†unstoppable force could¬†appear that helpless was simply shocking to behold.
 

***** Sansa¬†has long past redeemed herself as a Stark, but if she does not accept the Hound’s offer of escape she is going to lose all those¬†cool points she’s been collecting lately (like the ones she earned for comparing her¬†hopes¬†for Tyrion¬†survival to¬†her hopes¬†for Joffrey’s¬†safe return. Love Tyrion¬†but that was hilarious.). This is an offer you don’t think twice about accepting, especially after having to run into her father’s killer, Ser Ilyn Payne, again.
****** The subtle scene preceding these moments was wonderful as well, of the Hound threatening murder if a flaming arrow so much as came near him during the fight. It’s an understandable request but his reasons for making it are personal. If anyone came into this episode unaware of his childhood, the significance of these scenes would be lost on them, and that’s unfortunate.
 

Bronn

Notably allowed to appear on screen¬†without Tyrion******* , Bronn¬†more than proves he can be just as dry witted and¬†entertaining on his own as with a Lannister. This episode’s almost like a “Day in the Life of Bronn,” starting off with a visit to the brothel, followed by some beheadings¬†and a¬†Hound rescue. Now all these scenes need to cap them off is a post-battle reappearance at Tyrion’s side.

Bronn¬†is one of those¬†well-liked but minor¬†characters¬†who technically could be considered disposable, which is why he is the one I fear the most for going into the finale. I already had to quickly rewind when¬†editing between¬†shots made it unclear at one point¬†whether Bronn¬†was¬†killing or getting¬†killed by one of Stannis’ men. My¬†nerves have calmed over that scene,¬†but he hasn’t been shown again since, alive or otherwise, and it’s not exactly like¬†he was left¬†at the¬†safest position, fighting in front of Mud Gate¬†instead of behind it.
 

******* Admittedly their one scene together, declaring [paid] friendship, was incredibly sweet. and reminded me of [spoiler for A Game of Thrones¬†(book)] the moment Jon and Tyrion¬†had on the wall, when Jon calls Tyrion¬†friend and Tyrion responds¬†that he hasn’t had many of them.

 

 

I have¬†finished the first brilliant book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (don‚Äôt want to read ahead of the show but thought there‚Äôd be no harm in reading up to the events I‚Äôve already seen) but please, NO book or television show spoilers¬†in the comments below. Thoughts on this episode (like did the¬† King’s Guardsman turn on Tyrion for personal reasons or money?) , the episodes preceding it, and anything I’ve said in this review are fair game and welcome!
 

Game of Throne‘s screencaps from here

 

Review HBO’s Game of Thrones: “The Prince of Winterfell” (Season 2, Episode 8)

[Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for this episode and any episodes preceding it]
 
A few words about another, albeit less action-packed but always wonderful, installment of Game of Thrones, as I catch up on the show via DVD.

 

Strengths:

Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie on the move

– Arya’s manipulation of¬†Jaqen into allowing her, Gendry, and Hot Pie to escape Harrenhal leaves them¬†in a wonderful¬†situation (granted, the Game of Thrones version of wonderful) where they actually have choices again, specifically where to go next. Their main options:

  • Winterfell, which¬†has been taken over¬†by the Greyjoys
  • Robb’s camp,¬†which is¬†in the midst of¬†the North’s¬†war against¬†the Lannisters
  • the Night’s Watch, which may be their best bet but is also the farthest away. Jon wouldn’t even be around to greet them¬†presently¬†due¬†to his being¬†held captive by Wildlings predicament.

So basically the¬†real question is how do they¬†get¬†anywhere safely, let alone¬†smoothly (can’t¬†picture Hot Pie being the most uncomplaining of travel companions either) and, his debt to her having been repaid,¬†is this the last viewers will see of Jaqen?
 

~ SIDENOTE ~

The only thing that would have made¬†Arya’s freedom sweeter is Needle. At this point she still¬†hasn’t re-procured¬†her sword¬†from the soldier that took it, and “the odds¬†are not in her favor” that she ever will,¬†upon leaving¬†the Lannister army stronghold without it (not that¬†the odds were ever¬†favorable while she stayed there). Still, escaping with friends, Needle or no Needle, was necessary, a more satisfying choice for her third request than had the initial “kill Tywin” order gone through. While his death would have caused a major power shake-up in this game of thrones,¬†it wouldn’t have improved Arya’s lot. Sure, he’s Robb’s war foe but if Tywin goes down another, maybe less clever, individual will take his place.¬†While¬†by no means a good man,¬†Tywin surprisingly treated her well, and it is not like she lacks for other names in power¬†who were¬†real¬†creeps to her.¬†Why, on that particular list, Tywin¬†does not¬†have top billing.

 

– Theon and his sister, Yara,¬†only¬†appear in¬†a¬†brief scene, but¬†the twisted family relations of the Greyjoy’s don’t¬†require much screen time to be memorable.¬†In this heartfelt conversation¬†between siblings,¬†Yara¬†voices her concern for¬†her brother¬†with¬†the backhanded, “I’m worried about you¬†because, since you smiled at me as a baby¬†just when I was about to strangle you for not being quiet, I’ve cared.” Not an exact quote. More of a general gist of the sentiment behind her words.

– Jaime and Brienne are going to be having some exasperating conversations of¬†their own, given that Jaime loves to provoke and does not yet recognize he¬†has a worthy, stubborn opponent in this lady warrior,¬†charged by Lady Catelyn to swap him for her daughters kept hostage in Kings Landing (actually daughter, since no one’s filled Cat in that Arya¬†made it out of the city).

– I had always wondered why Renly (may he rest in peace) was in charge of¬†Storm’s End while Stannis controlled¬†Dragonstone.¬†There had been mentions in previous episodes¬†that Stannis had held¬†Storm’s End¬†for his brother, Robert, during the war, but clearly he was passed over for his younger brother when it came to holding that land during peace.¬†Why? Well, there is still no exact explanation given for that oversight, but there is validation for my thinking it odd with an unexpected, insightful explication scene between Stannis and Davos. Providing interesting background information on their friendship and battle experience, one really comes to¬†grasp the threat Stannis poses, as his ships sail towards¬†Kings Landing. He is not new to hardships. In fact, he has faced them and come out the victor.
 

Gipped:

After back-to-back episodes of performing intense dramatic material, Sansa gets nothing in this episode, and this is after last episode’s reveal that she is (physically) ready for marriage.

 

Treading Water:

This was an episode where almost every character makes an appearance but not always a necessary one, which is particularly disappointing given that some of the exciting¬†unveilings in “A Man Without Honor,” that¬†seemed¬†destined to set off¬†and shakeup events, don’t get addressed.¬†I know the next episode, “Blackwater,” is¬†highly regarded¬†because I saw its name pop up in “Best of 2012” lists, so clearly¬†things are going to explode soon, but waiting until “Blackwater” to have that explosion, and building up all that anticipation in “A Man Without Honor”¬†forced “The Prince of Winterfell” to feel more standstill, like the brakes were being¬†pulled on the momentum.¬†It’s all¬†good¬†Game of Thrones (bad does not exist),¬†but instead of a feeling of¬†events¬†progressing at a natural pace there¬†exists¬†an¬†outward sense¬†that the writers are¬†deliberately slowing things down¬†to leave¬†the big changes¬†for an epic¬†“Blackwater.” In other words, “The Prince of Winterfell” is another set up episode¬†when viewers are already¬†set up.
– We got murderous warlock in Quarth last episode, only to follow that up¬†with more Dany wants dragons, Jorah loves Dany?¬†They’re mute points, and no matter how easy the segway from Varys¬†informing Tyrion “the Targaryen girl” lives to a camera shot of Daenerys’ distressed face, this screentime should have been passed on to someone else.¬†Let Daenerys¬†have her spotlight¬†in¬†the next two episodes, at a time when she can do something instead of repeat herself, like attempt to rescue those dragon children of hers¬†after declaring multiple times that that’s what must be done.

– Tyrion vs. Cersei: Sure, I knew they weren’t going to get along, knew Cersei would continue to stand by Joffrey and want to prevent his fighting in the field*. Still, the complete acting like they never talked last episode, like she never shared her doubts about her son to Tyrion, was disappointing. In front of others absolutely she would remain mum, but why completely keep up the act in front of him? It is motherly instinct to not want to place her son in a situation where he could get physically hurt but don’t act like you always find him darling.

And her belief that she has found a way to control Tyrion by taking his whore hostage- it just¬†came off false¬†for her to make such a mistake as picking the wrong whore. Yes, it shows Varys gave her false information, but he’ll never be a completely trustworthy member of Team Tyrion no matter¬†how much¬†he¬†mimes support. Nor¬†will Shae. While Tyrion’s loyalty to her is¬†unquestionably absolute, I fear he will be hurt in love once more by a prostitute. Worse, it’s not even one of those situations where you want to believe her and will be shocked when she betrays him, even after all the signs indicated she might. Instead I will be shocked if she doesn’t go Benedict Arnold on him, and that’s not how I personally want to feel about someone the incredibly clever Tyrion is completely smitten with.

Tyrion and BronnOn the other hand, Tyrion reading up on war histories and battle strategies was a nice acknowledgement of how the brainy Lannister would try to address the impending battles- through¬†literature. Bronn¬†acts as the perfect counterpart for that scene,¬†amused by what he feels is wasted time on books. Meanwhile,¬†Tyrion’s “I¬†enjoy playing the game”¬†admission to¬†Varys wasn’t necessary but was a nice character moment (but again, in an episode filled with¬†good but unnecessary moments, it doesn’t entertain as much as it might have had it been placed in a more active episode).
 

* The real shocker is the kid is cocky enough to believe he could fight well. Rather than try to avoid a conflict where his lack of swordsmanship will be plain to see, he is determined to participate.
 

-Was looking forward to Bran’s merry group of escapers having¬†adventures, in the style of the¬†adventures I look forward to¬†watching¬†Arya¬†& Co have,¬†but they’re already back¬†in Winterfell. One can see the logic in this decision, to hide where no one is searching, but then there’s the other “draw attention on itself” line¬†where Osha¬†tells Maester Luwin, she won’t¬†make¬†Bran aware of what happened to the farmer’s kids, only to have him be awake and listening in only a few feet away. I expected more from this breakoff plotline, and for this scene to be¬†dumped at¬†the very end of the episode, like an afterthought of, “Oh yeah, didn’t we try to imply that the youngest Starks were cooked last episode? Probably should clear that up before we close,”¬†didn’t¬†impress¬†this viewer.
 

** And, no surprise, they’re still alive- the tip off of them not stopping at¬†a farm¬†because¬†its owner’s¬†family¬†might be endangered¬†brought too much attention¬†to itself.
 

Remain on the Fence:

Both Robb and Jon make some forward motion in this episode but it’s not all that exciting.

– First there’s¬†Robb, who¬†feels betrayed by his mother’s¬†secret release of primary¬†prisoner,¬†Jaime Lannister. As King of the North he has had to¬†put his personal wishes aside for those of the camp’s. It is a¬†necessary priority adjustment that¬†his mother helped him face,¬†yet now she turns around and gives away their main bargaining chip with the Lannisters¬†in order to¬†retrieve her two daughters from King’s Landing***.¬†Not only are her actions¬†hypocritical¬†but they are¬†self-serving as well, and for Robb to be easy on his mother would¬†appear to his angered soldiers¬†as special treatment. Nonetheless, her arrest isn’t pleasant.

Catelyn Stark

From her perspective, Jaime was as good as dead if he stayed¬†at the camp, with the number of enemies he was collecting every hour. At least now something¬†positive could come about from his being allowed to live. Robb, though, turns his back on her in disdain, only to use¬†her selfishness¬†as an excuse to give into his¬†attraction¬†to Talisa, despite being engaged to another. All displays of maturity on the battlefield give way to¬†youthful rebellion and passion¬†which could have major consequences.¬†Walder Frey was a¬†difficult and unstable ally to begin with. It was only Cat’s promise that Robb would marry one of his daughters that¬†convinced¬†him to allow Winterfell passage over his bridge. If he finds out about this rendezvous he will not think twice about turning his back on the Starks, maybe even¬†join forces¬†with the Lannisters.

Robb Stark
This does not mean I dislike Talisa, with her monologue about how¬†her¬†brother’s near-death experience¬†led her to become a nurse, but it was only a matter¬†of time before they got together,¬†and I don’t like the “Robb getting back at his mother”¬†angle to¬†it, as Catelyn was the one who attached him to another woman in the first place.
 

***  Again, unbeknownst to her, daughter (singular).
 

–¬†Back behind the Wall,¬†Jon finally finds out why he couldn’t find¬†his¬†Night’s Watch brothers. They were killed by the Wildlings, with only one ranger left living. While it was “nice” to have their absence finally explained (even if¬†the news turned out to be fairly¬†bleak), I¬†remain unattached to¬†Ygritte.¬†Willing to have¬†my initial¬†reaction of blandness towards her¬†proven wrong in the future, but currently their pairing only makes me continue to miss Sam. His¬†brief appearance with the others stewards discovering dragon glass, whatever that means,¬†is too mysterious¬†to provide any¬†satisfaction. In the future, there needs to be more Sam.

 

 

I’m almost done the first brilliant book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (don‚Äôt want to read ahead of the show but thought there‚Äôd be no harm in reading up to the events I‚Äôve already seen) but please, NO book or television show spoilers in the comments below.
Thoughts on this episode (like predictions on where Arya will head next), the episodes preceding it, and anything I’ve said in this review are fair game and welcome!
 

Game of Throne‘s screencaps from here

 

Review HBO’s Game of Thrones: “A Man Without Honor” (Season 2, Episode 7)

[Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for this episode and any episodes preceding it]
 
A few words about another addictive installment of Game of Thrones, as I catch up on the show via DVD.

 

And Then There Were Three

I knew creepy illusion man had¬†Daenerys’ dragons (call it the “evil bald man” stereotype). What I didn‚Äôt¬†expect was for¬†him (and his¬†duplicates) to¬†murder twelve of the thirteen rulers of Qarth. Such¬†violent capabilities¬†give way¬†to the question:

Are there other¬†magicians¬†of his kind at¬†the “House of the Undying” tower, where the dragons are being held captive, or¬†are others unnecessary when you can¬†simply multiply yourself into a killing army?

Incidentally, I’ve read¬†some complaints about¬†Emilia Clarke‚Äôs acting this season, or¬†more¬†specifically¬†Dany‚Äôs whininess, but don’t feel they’re fair. There’s no denying that Daenerys’ storyline (AKA the plot Clarke has to work with)¬†has been¬†seriously¬†hit by the events of “Fire and Blood.” There is a price to be paid for¬†that season¬†finale’s epic closing dragon birth scene and it is being paid now, with season two Dany¬†lacking¬†her expected¬†newborn child, husband Khal Drogo*, and Dothraki kalazaar**.

Daenerys¬†had been¬†fascinating¬†in season one for being¬†dropped into¬†a foreign¬†culture that forced her to¬†acclimate and grow. That foreign culture¬†is gone¬†and¬†she’s floundering¬†a bit¬†at the¬†destruction of¬†her¬†people. Whereas she¬†can’t change¬†the outcomes of¬†those events,¬†she can¬†still retrieve her¬†motherly-void¬†filling¬†dragons.¬†This magician’s¬†provocation is going to¬†force a reaction from her that gives me confidence¬†Dany’s¬†screentime will gain some energy soon. It simply has taken a great blow and¬†had to go through¬†a “dealing with the changes in circumstances” stage. Emilia Clarke is doing just fine as Kahleesi.

 
* I really thought that death wasn’t going to stick and that he would make one of those magical TV reappearances/recoveries.

** Only Jorah and one Dothraki remain as her protectors after last episode‘s massacre
 

The Un-Subtle Brewings of Romance

Female love interests have arrived for some of¬†the Stark boys!¬†Of the two new budding couples, I prefer Robb and Talisa, because while it‚Äôs outright obvious that the King of the North is smitten with lady nurse, whom¬†he first met coming to the aid of¬†an enemy soldier, he‚Äôs holding his own with her. Occasionally awkward, but nothing to the degree of a mess his half-brother turns into while in the presence of his Wildling ‚Äúprisoner.‚ÄĚ

I mean, by¬†Ygritte’s fifth crack at his lack of experience with women we get it- without a balance of snappy comebacks¬†from Jon,¬†these scenes, at least so far,¬†are¬†an¬†overkill¬†display¬†of his being completely out of his depth while in the presence of pretty¬†girls.

If only Sam were there. He could absolutely teach¬†his friend¬†a thing or too about how to act in front of the opposite gender, having been completely charming towards the Wildling he developed a soft spot for in “What is Dead May Never Die.” I¬†also continue to¬†wish that¬†Jon hadn’t gone off on his own¬†in the first place, so eager to prove himself a ranger to the Night’s Watch,¬†when a third wheel during moments like these(being trumped by a girl, being¬†surrounded by Mance Rayder’s men, etc.)¬†would have been quite beneficial to him.
 

How Not to Escape Imprisonment

While Jon struggles forming words¬†in response¬†to his hostage, Lady Catelyn’s¬†is¬†prepared for¬†everything¬†she throws at him,¬†deflecting¬†and returning her¬†hurtful barbs¬†with¬†stings¬†of his own.

It would seem that Jaime has taken to imprisonment in much the same mouthy fashion as his younger brother, Tyrion.

Jaime Lannister

However, Tyrion used his mind and an ally (Bron) to get out of¬†Lady Lysa’s¬†sky cell¬† at the uncomfortable (but beautifully rendered) location of the¬†Eyrie (season one‚Äôs “The Golden Crown“). All of his comments had¬†a purpose beyond letting off steam; rather, by¬†cleverly playing off Stark and Arryn honor he was able to¬†steal his freedom back.

Jaime has no patience for such mind games, and leans on his strength alone to get his freedom back. This means, no matter how¬†flashy his swordplay, he’s stuck in a perpetual state¬†of being outnumbered.¬†His insults are for no endgame beyond the short-term pleasure of infuriating, and only seem to lower his chances of survival. By the end of this episode both he and Cat¬†are aware¬†that, in his present predicament, surrounded by angry drunken soldiers with swords,¬†his likelihood¬†of¬†lasting even the night are slim.

The question remains,¬†as Jaime¬†has to continually¬†accept being thwarted by the Starks¬†in his attempts at freedom, which of his personality traits will take prominence: his will to live, or his pride*** at being stuck in a situation he’s not “suited” for?

 
*** Can’t wait to have him see Brienne fight, because right now he seems to feel Lady Cat mocks him with a female protector that holds a similar position to the one he held as a member of the King’s Guard.
 

“It’s A Twin Thing”

As different as Jaime and Tyrion¬†are, there are a lot of similarities to be found between Jaime and Cersei, which are highlighted in this episode’s¬†failed escape sequence. For instance, both twins are¬†capable of¬†transitioning from sincerity to brutality with chilling ease. Jaime genuinely compliments his distant relative squire, yet kills him because, in matters of survival,¬†he’ll always pick the option that equals life. Morality is secondary, justifiably ignored because of the precedence of staying alive.

Where Cersei and Jaime interestingly differ: their degree of loyalty to each other. While Jaime reveals that he has only been intimate with his sister, viewers know that Cersei has felt the need to use their cousin Lancel as a stand-in while her brother is away. With Robert, she was married to the man and had to be with him occasionally. There are no power advantages or social forces that require she be with this boy she has no romantic feelings****.

 
**** In fact,¬†he’s hurting her by being Tyrion’s (reluctant) spy.
 

The Queen Gets to Play Nice(r)

No sibling camaraderie of any kind can be said to exist between Tyrion and Cersei, and her constant antagonism against his fan favorite character (particularly throughout season two) has done nothing to help her likability. Yet right when you are ready to sell off a Lannister as completely flawed and despicable (excluding Tyrion, who is always lovable), they appear in a scene that makes you not despise them, that makes them human, rising above the reputation of their house for being purely untrustworthy and self-absorbed.

In season one, such moments took place¬†for Cersei¬†when she revealed how, at first, she did¬†love Robert and wanted to have a proper marriage. The loss of her (black-haired) son,¬†in¬†combination with¬†Robert’s continued¬†torch for¬†Ned Stark‚Äôs dead sister, Lyanna, made her turn cold and grow ever closer to her twin sibling, Jaime.

Tyrion LannisterIn this episode, though,¬†she lets herself be vulnerable in front of¬†the brother she likes least,¬†and if¬†any doubt exists about the frequency of these revealing conversations between the duo,¬†Tyrion‚Äôs expressions of wanting to comfort his sister but not having the faintest clue how proves¬†their rareness.¬†This is a¬†momentously meaningful¬†talk¬†that probably won’t alter their relationship’s¬†status quo of dislike¬†for long, but does¬†reveal even¬†Cersei¬†isn’t blind or excusing of her out of control boy-king son, Joffrey, anymore. Having no one else to talk to where her¬†opinions would not¬†be¬†perceived as weakness or treason,¬†she can at least¬†trust¬†that¬†Tyrion¬†won‚Äôt use this particular information against her, because he agrees.

Queen Cersei Lannister and Sansa StarkHe also understands, without the fact having to be stated directly, that publicly she will continue to stand by her son*****. She makes a more verbal confirmation of this in her advice to future daughter-in-law Sansa, telling her to love only your children. They are an unavoidable attachment, the only people a mother has to protect and, potentially, the only individuals a mother will ever find joy in, whilst everything else in her life turns grim.

Cersei¬†has lived by that creed and will continue to do so, for having¬†revolved her life¬†and happiness around her children, she¬†can’t break habit******.¬†She won’t stop¬†her son’s¬†marriage (it’s in his best interests), only sympathize with his fianc√©e- relate to her¬†as someone who¬†likewise once dreamed of being queen, only to be hardened by the reality. Personally, her¬†only comfort¬†has ever been¬†her children, and now¬†her daughter’s been sent away for safety purposes and she has a son¬†who is a¬†monster. She’s losing her grip on the¬†people she loves, but in her desperate devotion and lack of anyone else to care about, or care for her*******, she will still never stop protecting and defending them, Joffrey included.

 
***** It’s bad enough that she recognizes privately that Sansa’s marriage will be worse than hers was with Robert, going so far as to, without hesitation,¬†defend the husband¬†she loathed to Tyrion as a king who at least never enjoyed cruelty, unlike her son, saying that, unlike her son.

****** Not to mention Joffrey has threatened to kill her, his own mother, for less.

******* Outside of her forbidden love¬†towards Jaime, who’s stuck miles away as the Stark’s prisoner of war
 

~¬†King’s Landing SIDENOTE ~

I’ve been¬†foggy up to now about my feelings towards Tyrion’s girlfriend (of sorts) Shae, but appreciated her speed to come to Sansa‚Äôs aid here in her moment of crisis********, even if it led to naught. Sansa¬†herself has never¬†been the¬†most¬†charming¬†of the Stark children, but Sophie Turner truly makes the role compelling,¬†particularly¬†Sansa’s season two realization that¬†her beloved, adulated royal family is crazy. Everything about the direction her story arc is¬†heading down¬†is scary (her looming marriage to Joffrey, the almost rape scene from the last episode*********) and¬†she has really made King‚Äôs Landing a place you want to spend more time¬†in (at least from the safe distance of¬†a sofa, with a television screen in between).

Shae and Sansa Stark

 
******** “Bleeding”¬†is bad enough without¬†symbolizing “time to get¬†hitched to a mad king and have his kids.”

********* Speaking of: the Hound¬†won‚Äôt accept Sansa‚Äôs ‚Äúthanks,” ¬†preferring to act like nothing out of the ordinary happened,¬†but in reality¬†he¬†stepped away from his duties as Joffrey‚Äôs ‚Äúdog‚ÄĚ to save her from those men. The Hound isn’t exactly known for such heroics (can’t forget Arya’s friend, the butcher boy, from season one’s “The Kingsroad“).¬†He follows orders, and while Joffrey wasn’t in any imminent danger when he stepped away, he left¬†his charge¬†alone during a¬†riot where he was the prime target. The Hound¬†showed a soft spot for another¬†and can’t, or¬†won’t, recognize¬†that after the fact.
 

Arya (enough said)

To both the credit of the character as written by George R. R. Martin, and the charms of actress, Maisie Williams, every Arya Stark scene is gold. That¬†wonderfulness rubs off on the¬†characters¬†Arya interacts¬†with as well, meaning Gendry and Jaquen¬†are missed this week, but Tywin continues to¬†shine in a new,¬†more flattering¬†light¬†due to¬†his extremely fair¬†treatment of¬†an “unknown servant girl”. Indeed, considering his relationships with his own damaged children, his kindness towards¬†a stranger¬†is¬†extremely suspicious, and unlikely.

After all, he always spots the holes and irregularities in her fake back story and even left his guard down long enough so that Arya could steal a paper containing war information last episode (though her plan to send the information to Robb fell awry). Either he knows her identity********** and finds her lies amusing, or he truly is completely charmed by her aptitude at cleverness and wit***********.

Or both.

 

********** …from Littlefinger figuring it out last episode or his own deciphering

*********** The same words could be used to describe his biological son¬†Tyrion,¬†but¬†Tywin hates¬†him for being a dwarf and the ‚Äúcause‚ÄĚ of his wife‚Äôs death in childbirth.

 
 

I’m almost done the first brilliant book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (don‚Äôt want to read ahead of the show but thought there‚Äôd be no harm in reading up to the events I‚Äôve already seen) but please,¬†NO book or television¬†show spoilers¬†in the comments below.

Thoughts on this episode (like how doomed Theon Greyjoy is, or how awesome a runaway¬†party two direwolfs, two Starks, a Wildling, and Hodor make), the episodes preceding it, and anything I’ve said in this review are fair game and welcome!

 

Game of Thrones screencaps from here

 

My Dream Emmy Ballot 2013: “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series”

UPDATE:

This category was a wash.
 
I am actually familiar with the work of all the actresses nominated, and they are all extremely talented but this list has been seen before (Emilia Clarke for Game of Thrones being the exception- bravo Mother of Dragons!). Would have liked to see the wealth spread, since there are so many actresses worthy of these six spots.
 
Indeed, Monica Potter plays my least favorite character on Parenthood, but I wanted to see her nominated (even over Mae Whitman, who plays my favorite character) because of her emotional cancer arc this season. It ended a little too happily (and please don’t take that the wrong way- having cancer of any form or degree, no matter the outcome, is terrible. I only mean that, in the case of this show, while a ton of issues have been thrown at the Bravermans over four seasons, they always seem to come out in the end overwhelmingly lucky).
 
As the category is, I’ll put my vote behind Christina Hendricks.
 
Here is the official nominations list.
 

***

 
Here is what the ‚ÄúSupporting Actress in a Drama Series‚ÄĚ category would look like if I was in charge of the Emmys (unfortunately, you can only¬†nominate six people,¬†and even my honorable mentions section is missing worthy individuals).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

– Rose Byrne (Ellen Parsons, Damages)

– Kim Dickens (Janette Desautel, Treme)

JOELLE CARTER (Ava Crowder, Justified)

ABIGAIL SPENCER (Amantha Holden, Rectify)

– Monica Potter (Kristina Braverman, Parenthood)

– Maggie Siff (Tara Knowles, Sons of Anarchy)

(tie)

 
 

Runner Ups:
Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart, The Good Wife)
Claire Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor, Nashville)
Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones)
Joanne Froggart (Anna, Downton Abbey)
Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris, Mad Men)
Melissa Leo (Antoinette ‚ÄėToni‚Äô Bernette, Treme)
Linda Parrilla (Evil Queen/Mayor Regina Mills, Once Upon a Time)
Mae Whitman (Amber Holt, Parenthood)
Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper, Mad Men)

 

Honorable Mentions: Anna Gunn (Skyler White, Breaking Bad), Betsy Brandt (Marie Schrader, Breaking Bad), Miranda Hart (Chummy Noakes, Call the Midwife), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones), Kelly Macdonald (Margaret Schroeder, Boardwalk Empire), Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes, Nashville), Beth Riesgraf (Parker, Leverage), Valorie Curry (Emma Hill, The Following)

 
And let the debates begin! Do you agree with my choices? Voice your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to organize your own nominee list using the official Emmy ballot.
(P.S. It doesn’t matter if your choices are long shots (certainly many of mine are) but it’s nice to pretend they have a chance anyway.)
 

-Carter’s picture from here; Spencer’s picture credited¬†Sundance

 

My Dream Emmy Ballot 2013: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series”

UPDATE:

Can no member of an FX drama get nominated? Justified? Sons of Anarchy? The Americans? Poor Walter Goggins.
 
The silver lining is I’m very happy for Peter Dinklage and Aaron Paul. It’s a complete toss up between those two.
 
Here is the official nominations list.
 

***

 
Here is what the ‚ÄúSupporting Actor in a Drama Series‚ÄĚ category would look like if I was in charge of the Emmys (unfortunately, you can only¬†nominate six people,¬†and even my honorable mentions section is missing worthy individuals).

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

WALTON GOGGINS (Boyd Crowder, Justified)

Walton Goggins as "Boyd Crowder"

– Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad)

– Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones)

– Steve Zahn (Davis McAlary, Treme)

– Dayton Callie (Wayne Unser, Sons of Anarchy)

– Luke Kirby (Jon Stern, Rectify)

 
 

Runner-Ups:
Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne, Nashville)
Michael Kenneth Williams (Chalky White, Boardwalk Empire)
Jordan Gavaris (Felix, Orphan Black)
Max Thieriot (Dylan Massett, Bates Motel)
Goran Visnjic (Nikolai Schiller, Red Widow)
John Slattery (Roger Sterling, Mad Men)
Matt Czuchry (Cary Agos, The Good Wife)

 

Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut), Kim Coates (Alex ‚ÄėTig‚Äô Trager, Sons of Anarchy), Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey), Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates, Bates Motel), Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, Once Upon a Time), Josh Charles (Will Gardner, The Good Wife)
Michael Cudlitz (Officer John Cooper, Southland), Colin Donaghue (Hook/Killian Jones, Once Upon a Time), Seamus Denver (Kevin Ryan, Castle), Dean Norris (Hank Schrader, Breaking Bad), Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson, Homeland), Dax Shepard (Crosby Braverman, Parenthood), Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley, Nashville), Sam Palladio (Gunner Scott, Nashville)

 
And let the debates begin! Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? Voice your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to organize your own nominee list using the official Emmy ballot.

(P.S. It doesn’t matter if your choices are long shots (certainly many of mine are) but it’s nice to pretend they have a chance anyway.)
 

-picture from here