Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 5

We never skip the credits in my house, ever.  What I love most is that initial minor-to-major key change at the beginning.  Makes me so happy.  So, King's Landing, Pyke, Winterfell, The Wall (which I mostly just want to call "Sam" ), and Qarth.

As utterly ridiculous as it may seem, we are halfway through the season of Game Of Thrones and so it seems time to take stock of where we are, who's dead, and who has a prayer of making it to the end of the season.  I know the show is accused sometimes of back-loading everything - weeks of setup and then (we assume) three weeks of gore and  shock at the end of the episode - but I like that we get so much character work up front.  

I do think it makes a difference when we don't see people.  I get much more antsy for them if they skip a week.  When I say “them”, of course, I'm not really missing Robb Stark or Jamie Lannister; I think I'm perverse enough that I crave my Joffrey fix to see how bad things really are in Kings' Landing and beyond. (I thought the show was unusually restrained to mention Joffrey's brutalising the “birthday present” but not actually show it - I was braced for that image this week and pleased when it didn't come.) Not that we didn't get a taste of that.

When Tyrion heard the guy ranting in the market calling him a Demon Monkey - didn't you laugh at his face?  And also, kind of, wonder why he was still surprised at being called names?  I love seeing Tyrion almost ignored, as it allows him to slide under the radar so often.  But you'd think people would at least make a nod to his position and hold the open contempt until he was out of eye-shot.  But they don't - they don't even notice him.  And so he gets to do his work unfettered, and I am never happier than when that work is verbally eviscerating Lancel Lannister, although eviscerating Cersei, while not as easy, is kind of more fun.  "Schemes and plots are the same thing".  I do wonder at how gentle he is with her, however.  He could be screaming and shaking her every day but somehow it's not worth it to him - at least not yet.  I've thought before that Tyrion and Cersei as characterized never really go beyond an adolescent level of discourse, despite discussing what are arguably major issues.  It seems like it's not really worth his time.   He's busy scheming and will save his force - and his new employees who make wildfire (in a scene that evoked more Harry Potter comparisons than ever before) - for when he simply can't talk his way out of something.  If that day ever comes.

It's such a unique trait because it doesn't belong to many of the others - Littlefinger can talk but is essentially powerless, Danaerys is the only other one who comes close to having an attitude and, theoretically, a sense of humour.  I loved seeing her in Qarth, the socializing coming so easily to her (though I sat up and said "YO" like a teenage fool when the warlock came to invite her over), and the pragmatisms of a marriage to Xaro being something she would consider, and then her chafing against Jorah.  I know I was the holdout swearing that he didn't love her like that, and even Xaro has told me to wake up and get a clue but I love how much it pained him to have to speak harshly to her about her plans.  It's the last thing he would ever do. But if it pushes the Khaleesi to make a move, all the better.  It's time for her to get her hands dirty.

There's a lot of that going around, though, because if you had told me Brienne was going to cry over the death of Renly Baratheon (and again over the goodness of Lady Stark - I could feel Lainey rolling her eyes from here) I might have been a little surprised.  I might also have been surprised that we got neither a scene with Margaery nor Loras* to remind us what we were going to be missing when we lost him, so the answer is apparently not much.  Both of them seemed...unsurprised at best.  Upset, maybe, but unsurprised - and I wonder who Margaery's next husband is set to be, as you know Littlefinger has a plan there.

The other plots were more straightforward.  I rolled my eyes at Theon's semi-uselessness and think the woman who plays his sister Yara is knocking it right straight out of the park - she's so utterly one of the guys and still a woman (oh, and can we talk about the tie-dyed sailors' outfits?); I continue to think Samwell is the most adorable creature that ever lived and even though Jon Snow is not actually doing much their scenes were breathtaking, and I sincerely hope we get through at least the rest of this season before Bran's voice starts to break.  He looks so grown up!

Then, of course, there's the other “main contender”: since absent Robb Stark wants no claim to the Iron Throne, all eyes are on Stannis Baratheon, whose crazy may be contained, but must still exist based on previous actions.  He doesn't trust Melisandre - at least, enough to heed Davos' words that they should consider moving without her - so he retains some coherence, but, you know, not enough to be concerned that a smoke monster in his image stabbed his brother (although you have to note it's a pretty iron-clad alibi of an assassin.  Smoke?  Who's going to believe that?  Even Brienne knew she was toast if she stuck around).

And then there's Arya.  Arya, you intriguing, complicated female character, you.  I love you for being strong and interesting and I love you for not being particularly adorable, and I love you for having the heart for revenge.  Jaqen may talk like an amateur actor trying to play a snake, but he's clearly as good as his word where “making friends” was concerned, and Arya needs all the allies she can get.  I wish I could shake the feeling that there's something good in her new position nearer Tywin, but I'm not that naive.  My issue is that I don't think she pulled off the “commoner from the North” as well as she thinks she did.  I haven't read spoilers or anything, but here's my thinking: Arya, like Daenerys, is nobly born; she has a certain way of speaking and expecting she's going to be listened to.  Not just that - she doesn't quake when asked questions by arguably the most powerful man in Westeros.  She meets his eyes, she doesn't stammer.  And though I think her words about “anyone can be killed” were well chosen, I dare to believe Tywin's been around long enough to notice when a 10 year old girl has the presence of mind of a leader of men.

*Thank you to all who pointed out that spelling this name with an 'i' would be a grievous injustice.

(Lainey: I’m about to hate Theon Greyjoy more than I’ve ever hated anyone, even Catelyn, aren’t I? As it is he has a face that needs to be slapped. Does the Black Smoke have a name? Or can I keep calling it “Lost”?)