Sunday, April 12, 2015

Game of Thrones "The Wars to Come" Review

Rebellion. Game of Thrones is like an Anti-Flag record at the beginning of season five. Folk don’t want to be ruled by whoever’s ruling them. Dany experienced the initial sparks of rebellion in a city she recently took by force. The people proclaimed “Mother!” at her. The Unsullied ripped down the golden statue atop Meereen. Still, an unsullied’s throat is slashed at a brothel. Tyrion rebelled against parental authority in an overtly brutal way. Mance Rayder rebelled against a kingdom. Blah blah blah rebellion. No one wants me to belabor the point through the tedious listing of the various rebellions throughout the seven kingdoms. Sadness, depression, and a sense of no direction is the other uniting theme of “The Wars to Come.” Don’t rule me, but find me purpose. Who should the characters trust? No one.

The Seven Kingdoms are unsettled. Stannis had a plan to act fast and overthrow Winterfell. Roose Bolton’s ally, Tywin Lannister, suffered death-by-arrow-by-privy and is there for the taking-only Stannis needs more men. Mance refused to bend the knee and died. Jon saved him from an agonizing death by shooting an arrow into his heart. Mance told Jon he only wanted the freedom to make his own mistakes. Stannis, the character that represents order, sternness, stolidity, and coldness, a contrast to the warm fire of R’hllor, won’t spare Mance’s life without the bended knee. Fealty precludes rebellion; it is order and loyalty.

Order and loyalty is not widespread in King’s Landing. Cersei and Jaime stand before the corpse of their father. Cersei cursed Tyrion for killing him. She cursed Jaime for freeing him, his stupidity in freeing him, which lead to his accidental role in the death of Tywin. Jaime warned Cersei about the line of people waiting to enter The Sept, confirm to themselves that Tywin really died, and will then plot an overthrow. Tommen’s a weak king. Cersei watched queasily her son’s dazzled expression after Margaery left him. Tyrells populate King’s Landing. Loras remains a proposed husband for her. The Tyrells’ ascent to the throne of King’s Landing seems imminent. Season five opened with a flashback to Cersei’s early teenage years on a day when she secretly went to the fabled witch in the woods to hear about her future. The witch tells her three truths. Young Cersei’s reaction transitions to Cersei’s present day pensiveness as she rides in a carriage to the Sept. The body of her father lies inside. Her son is dead, her king-husband is dead, and perhaps she reflected on the witch’s warning that she’d not like what she’d hear. Ah, witches. Witches would not thrive in advertising.

Cersei loathes Loras, Margaery, and the rest of the Tyrell clans. She looks as sick as Tyrion gets on Illyrio’s palace floor watching Margaery and her son. Lancel approached her at the memorial dinner for Tywin (one assumes it was a memorial dinner). Lancel, the cowardly cousin from season one, who couldn’t bring anyone a goblet of wine without spilling the wine, because he shook from nerves. Lancel became slightly braver in season two. I remember he slept with Cersei, stood up to Tyrion in a pompous, arrogant way, and disappeared into the Sept. Lancel’s a holy man and repents killing King Robert on behalf of his Cersei, and he also repents that she was his. Lancel’s yet another person Cersei destroyed.

“The Wars to Come” doesn’t belong to a single character, which is consistent with every prior episode of the series. Benioff and Weiss prefer to establish storylines, themes, motifs, and new locations in season premieres. The story doesn’t go to Dorne, but it establishes the aforementioned rebellion and lack of order and loyalty throughout the seven kingdoms. The best of the storylines involves Tyrion’s suicidal drinking binge in Illyrio’s stately Pentosi palace. Varys and Tyrion belong together. The writing shines and is as fine as Dornish and blackberry wine. Varys’ and Tyrion’s exchange about the powerful and the powerless is wonderfully eloquent. Varys’ masterful transition to the reason he saved Tyrion’s life turns Tyrion’s story to the mother of dragons, far north of Pentos. Varys won’t condone Tyrion’s actions; neither will Tyrion. He hated his father, but he loved Shae. Varys won’t apologize for keeping him in the crate while crossing The Narrow Sea and, really, Tyrion only felt bothered by process of putting his shit through small holes for Varys to then throw overboard. Tyrion looks like his soul-dirty, grimy, mixed with chunks of vile vomit, but he’s not a monster. He’s a man, powerless and forced to act against the powerful to save his life. Of course he’ll travel to Meereen to the meet the Queen of Dragons.

The Queen’s dragons, too, rebel in their dark chamber as ‘her people’ rebel against her. The would-be murders will continue to covertly murder her Unsullied soldiers unless she restores the fighting pits. A diplomat, speaking on behalf of the rebels, asks for political negotiations and hears back from her that she’s not a politician but a queen. If Dany returns the fighting pits, what’s next? Daario tells Dany about his experience fighting in the pits. His story is essentially a football coach’s wet dream. The brutal fighting helped build Daario’s character. His master gave him his freedom before he died because of the money he made off Daario beating everyone in the pits. Daario remembered 10,000 people chanting his name. All of it led to his freedoms and to the second sons and to Dany, the Queen of Dragons-but he asks her what is she without her dragons. Dany remembered the charred bones of a child. Her dragons greet her with fire and screams. The dragons would quell the rebellion, but they’d kill more children. Dany’s storyline is still great and engaging, complicated and conflicted, and more so after she sent Jorah away. Daario’s not an ideal character to rely on for sage, practical advice. Ser Barristan offered his opinion after the murder, but Dany simply wants to cut the heads off of her enemies’ bodies.

Acting on emotion always fails against those who act on thought and premeditation. Littlefinger told Sansa, when Sansa asked why he’d trust Lord Jawn’s (I forget his name) soldiers and carriage drivers as they make their way to a city westward from The Eyrie, that he doesn’t; he thinks, he premeditates, and he gives money for loyalty. Money-it’s equal to power. Varys and Tyrion, think, plan, and plot. Roose Bolton too. Stannis needs Davos to match the thinkers in the Seven Kingdoms. George R.R. Martin, the creator of this story, titled his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Westeros is mass chaos and confusion. The combination of ice and fire, for they’re not separated by a comma but held together by the conjunction and, will bring about peace throughout Westeros and Essos. A song is melodious and harmonious, composed of different sounds that become music.

Games of Thrones has reached A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons, the last two books in the series before the as-yet-unpublished The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Benioff and Weiss may have to unknot storylines and re-thread in the tapestry. The story of the Seven Kingdoms has reached its crescendo, I think, and now it begins the long and slow decrescendo towards the denouement. What is the song of ice and fire? It’s what we’re watching: the brutality, the betrayals, the twisted relationships, the love, the loyalty, the…everything…yes…the everything. It’s a confused mess, too, and as confused and messy as the rebellion, disorder, and conflict in “The Wars to Come.”

I know every fan has his or own theory about ice and fire, the who and the why. I think that’s how the story begins to come together now, though there are so many stories separate from that. It’s a gigantic fictional word and I think it’s almost impossible to neatly weave the threads in a beautifully patterned tapestry.

Other Thoughts:

-The series should finally pass A Dance of Dragons in season six. I look forward to not knowing where the story goes after x happens and y happens and z happens at x, y, and z place in A Dance of Dragons.

-It would’ve been great if Benioff and Weiss decided to faithfully follow A Feast for Crows and leave out Tyrion, Jon, and Dany.

-I didn’t write about many of the small character-based scenes in “The Wars to Come.” Melisandre cozies up to Jon Snow; Sam swears he’ll go wherever Gilly goes; the Night’s watch will vote for a new commander; Robin trains as a fighter, and it’s funny; Missandei asks Grey Worm why the Unsullied visit brothels. Grey Worm doesn’t say, but it’s because they’re lonely and need a mother’s nurturing. I suppose that’s an irony.

-Boy I hope we see the witch again. One may not recognize tone when reading text.

-No Bran for season five. Benioff and Weiss said they would have passed A Dance of Dragons for Bran if they included him in season five. Sigh. I like Bran’s story in A Dance of Dragons. There’s a part (really a moment), which I doubt the series would ever repeat, that’s really sweet and moving. The Stark kids will always rock.


-Michael Slovis directed the episode. D.B. Weiss and David Benioff wrote the episode.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.