[Review] - Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 4, "Garden of Bones"

Courtesy of HBO
I have to give full credit to the quality of the writing in this episode to Vanessa Taylor, whom the internet tells me is a new hire for the show, and if they were smart they'd get her to work on future endeavours. A veteran of Alias, Tell Me You Love Me, and Jack & Bobby, she displayed an almost Whedonesque flair for dialogue, the episode largely composed of one-on-one conversations, starting with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and a fart joke. Didn't see that one coming, I'll tell you.

It was one of the funnier episodes, nearly every interaction embossed with dry wit, sarcasm, or flat out hilarity. Which sold the theme of the episode, as Ros warned, "Too much pain will spoil the pleasure." And it was a painful episode too, one of the worst. To balance both, and not feature any baby murder what so ever, shows real talent.

For the rest of the spoileriffic review, hit the jump.

Can we all agree that if Joffery were on any other TV show, it would probably be Criminal Minds? Can we agree on that? Because his little adventure in sadomasochism certainly isn't winning him any "mentally stable" points.

Sadly, for some I'm sure, but not for me because I've always found her story dull, Dany continues to be a lead foot on the show's millipede. This is the most screen time she's gotten so far this season, but in an episode named after her story, she still only shows up twice. And then, all she does is yell at Otho from Beetlejuice, while hanging out in front of the castle from Army of Darkness. Is it possible that even the writers are bored with her at this point, realising that between the birth of the dragons and them getting to prime eating-Matthew-McConaughey-in-one-bite size, she doesn't have that interesting a story to tell. Not if she's just distracting us from the interesting stuff going on back in Westeros.

And what stuff is going on. This episode contained quiet a lot, and featured many stories, but I'll be damned if Ms Taylor didn't find a way to get it all in without it seeming overcrowded or glib. We return to battle, and highlight perhaps Robb's fatal weakness: he is a master commander apparently, but is unwilling (or unable) to see the big picture. He's content to fight, but he doesn't waste on thought on what happens after he wins. Careful, King of the North. Character flaws that big tend to have a way of biting people in the neck. Ask your father.

We also return to Renly's camp, in time for a parle of sorts, and got lots of brotherly boasting and member-measuring. Catelyn, not for the first time, doesn't really do anything, except rile the waters, and her scene with Littlefinger is guilty of the most overacting of the episode. Natalie Dormer continues to impress me as Margaery, her scene with Littlefinger proving that she can stand against one of the best liars of Kings Landing and get the better of him.

But the real highlight of the episode is Harrenhal, beautifully rendered with supreme creepiness in the opening credits (the first, mind, not to feature the Dothraki location), and artfully presented in the episode. The interrogation scenes were superb without being gory, letting the sound and imagination do the work. The exact opposite of standard procedure on The Walking Dead. I used to think being set on fire would be the worst way to die. I'm officially changing my answer to "having a rat eat through me." And, we get to see the spectacular Charles Dance, my second favourite actor from last season (sorry Sean Bean). His casting was inspired, and I can only hope his elevation to main cast will result in more screen time. He was even funny here, and quickly established as being smarter then everyone else,  instantly seeing through Arya's ruse. He is the only character smarter then Tyrion. Too bad he's evil.

Speaking of Tyrion, I won't be anymore. Assume from here on out that his scenes will be marvellous, that Dinklage continues to be the best thing about this show, and that all is right with the world.

This episode was, on the surface, about physical pain. From loosing limbs to child birth, it was about the delivery and the relief. But really, under it all, it was about interaction. It was about relationships, possibly the most painful things of all. For every rat gnawing through your gut, your have a brother's lament that his only family left in the world isn't worth loving. For every lash against the ass, you have a wife weeping over the bones of her dead husband. You have a child whispering in the night all the names of those who have wronged her. That's why it was so important for this episode to be frame around pairs: Tyrion and Lancel, Stannis and Davos, Davos and Melisandre, Littlefinger and Catelyn, Robb and the field nurse Talisa. It's in these quieter moments, during these honest conversations that we only reveal ourselves to those we're closest to. We can be soft when we're meant to be hard; we can laugh, or cry, when we're meant to be stone, and it's in those moments that we are truly exposed, that we can truly be harmed. And too much pain can ruin the pleasure.

But, then again, maybe birthing Venom from Spider-Man 3 really, really burns.

Line of the Night: Tough choice in an episode of gems. Bram's "Don't want to get blood all over your nice white cloak" was in the lead for most of it. In terms of delivery, the winner goes to Tyrion's "I could swear I didn't harm a single hair on his head, but that would not, strictly speaking, be true." But the winner has to be, for shear levels of irony, Stannis' assertion that "she has a name," during his conversation with Davos, a line that makes me believe that not naming Melisandre to this point is entirely intentional, and that maybe I should calm down about the whole thing.

B*tchslap: None on the face, though the gut punch Sansa received, paired with Joffery's insistence that he "likes her face" must surely count.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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