Sunday, April 21, 2013

Game Of Thrones "And Now His Watch Has Ended" Review

The fall of Astapor is a magnificent conclusion to "And Now His Watch Has Ended" because it underlines the theme of the oppressed rising up against their oppressors. The theme isn't black-and-white. The Night's Watch mutiny is far different from Daenerys' powerful stand against Kraznys and the other masters of Astapor as she completes the deal for The Unsullied. Daenerys' stand against Kraznys and Astapor is a crucial part of her arc. Daenerys was sold to Kahl Drogo and the Dothraki because Vaserys wanted an army so that he could sack King's Landing. Dany earned Drogo's love, became a true Khaleesi, endured his death and the red waste, endured the nonsense of Qarth, made mistakes along the way, and corrected them in her masterful deception of Kraznys that culminated in the fall of Astapor and its masters. Now the Astapori are as free as the one true queen.

The mutiny in the Night's Watch is different from the powerful conclusion in Astapor. The history of the Night's Watch is known. Their numbers are horrible, they're ignored when word is sent south with the ravens, and they've been stuck in the forest for a decent amount of time. Craster's a true bastard. The Night's Watch receive lodgings and bread covered in sawdust. The men are starving, wounded, and near crazed. The Fist of the First Men adventure ended horribly, and Craster starved one of their men to death. Jeor tries, but fails, to calm the tensions. Craster continues to poke at the men until they crack. When they crack, they crack. The Night's Watch is literally splintered. The Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont, is twice stabbed. Sam runs for Gilly and her son and flees the Keep. The sounds of swords and men's screams echo into the night. The Night's Watch mutiny was borne out of desperation, despair, and frustration, whereas the sack of Astapor meant so damn much more.

Varys and Tyrion share a scene that centers on the theme of the episode. Tyrion wants revenge on the people responsible for ordering a hit on him during the Battle of Blackwater. Tyrion doesn't take kindly to those who'd try to kill him. Varys is a man of many words and doesn't respond directly in terse sentences to Tyrion. Instead, he tells him the story of when he was cut as a boy. A sorcerer cut him after rendering him powerless to speak or move, but Varys felt the sensation of the knife and the burning. Revenge, Varys advises, is better suited for letters rather than with thievery or physical violence. Years may pass but the time between the initial act and its revenge is important. The sorcerer is in a box Varys has received from a ship, a sign that Varys means what he says. The attempted murder of Tyrion on the battle field is but one of many grievances in the man's life, dating back to his unfortunate incident with the whore when he was younger and he thought he saved her from a raping.

Arya, Gendry, and The Hound, are taken to the dwellings of the Brotherhood Without Banners where they met Beric Dondarrion, a former Northman before he abandoned a banner to fight for the poor and for justice. The Hound stands to face a trial for the crimes he committed. Beric lays the savagery of the King's Landing sack at his feet, accusing him of killing the babes that his brother actually committed. Sandor pleads innocence and cites his duty as the prince's guard for any wrongs he committed. Arya won't let Sandor plead his innocence without challenge. She accuses him of Micah's murder in front of the brotherhood. Beric can't try him in the traditional way because no one knows the specifics of the murder, but Beric can make Sandor fight for his life in trial by combat. Sandor practically salivates at the thought of taking on any man in one-on-one combat. Beric announces that he'll face The Hound. It represents a chance for Arya to feel some kind of satisfaction in what's been quite a horrible journey since she watched her father lose his head.

And in this episode about the good guys, as it were, sort of getting a feel-good moment is Theon, who believes he's heading for Deepwood Motte to reunite with his sister. His mysterious comrade takes him back to the dungeon, though. Theon screams and despairs. Moments earlier, Theon delivered a touching monologue about the mistakes he made for a man who doesn't care whether he lives or dies. The speech touches on the sadness he feels for betraying the man who was the only real father to him--Ned Stark. He regrets killing the miller boys for Winterfell, for letting his brothers down, and for never being able to right the wrongs he's done. Alfie Allen is terrific in the speech's delivery with the way he goes from proud to contrite, from boastful to mournful, right down to how he sits on the floor and contemplates what he's done, capped by the tears that roll down his cheeks that mix with the blood and dirt on his face. Fiction's littered with characters who will bear beatings to repent for their sins. Theon's story seems to have swung towards redemption; but winter is coming.

Meanwhile, Joffrey takes Margaery on a tour of the Sept (which looks beautiful, better than I imagined) and telling her brutal stories about the Targaryens. The history of the Targaryens is one of favorite parts of the books, so I appreciated the sharing of that history even if Joffrey chose the most brutal parts of the story to share. Margaery is aces and handles him well, even urging him to wave to the crowd that tried to kill last season in Flea Bottom. Cersei watches Margaery with disdain as she converses with Olenna. So, Joffrey's happy and content, which allows the women in his life to act behind their back. Cersei, after failing to gain any power advantage with her father, challenges him to get Joffrey listen to him. Tywin intends to get his grandson to listen. Varys converses with Olenna about Littlefinger's plan to take Sansa with him to The Eyrie, which is a really wonderful scene because Varys and Olenna are two of the best talkers in the series, and he suggests she do something to prevent Sansa's leave-taking from King's Landing. Margaery walks with Sansa to propose an idea in which they become sisters by her marrying Loras, which opens up a world of Highgarden dreams for Sansa.

"And His Watch Has Ended" is full of dreams, schemes, rebellions, and powerful displays of power. Locke believes in a dream of sapphires, but Tarth's named for sapphires because of its blue waters. Locke and his men treat Jaime terribly for a second consecutive episode. Jaime's basically done for by the end. His air of confidence and bravado has been cut from him like the hand of his that swings on his shoulder as he rides. He's too weak to fight, to ride a horse, and needs Brienne to prop him up. Brienne's an honorable woman who feels indebted for the man who lied to save her life. She's as rare as sapphires on Tarth, but the Westerosi nevertheless need to believe in the existence of sapphires. Without that, there's just, as Dolorous Edd says, "more shit."

Other Thoughts:

-Bran's one scene does little in advancing his story, though Catelyn shows up in the dream and dream-kills him by freaking him out. Jojen stares at him because he, too, shared the dream.

-Tywin was writing a few letters in his scene with Cersei.
-Game of Thrones has had several iconic scenes and moments in its run thus far such as the end of "Baelor" when Arya closes her eyes and buries her head into Yoren's as her father's head is taken off, the death of Renly, the explosion of Wildfyre, the hatching of Dany's dragons and whatnot. I think the best scene of the series, by far, is the last shot from above as Dany leads her army, with her dragons soaring above her, to another destination. I quite adore Emilia Clarke and she absolutely nailed every single beat in her speech to Kraznys. What a badass. The utterance of Dracarys would've made Ray Hudson yell in exuberance.

-Gwendoline Christie didn't stand out last season. Christine's been awesome this season. Brienne and Jaime have a wonderful dynamic, and she's found the core of Brienne of Tarth. Her scenes with Jaime are just wonderful.

-David Benioff & D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alex Hayes directed it.


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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.