[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 6, "The Olds Gods And New"

Courtesy of HBO

After her wonderful introductory episode a couple weeks back, expectations were high for Vanessa Taylor's second journey to Westeros. While this episode doesn't spark in the same way that her last did, it was still a valiant effort that sees pieces still moving into place as the second half of the season kicks off.

It's all about dichotomies here. Doing something you want to, for the wrong reasons, or not doing something for the right ones. Civilization in the wilderness, and the wild in the cities. And boys playing at being men. Things in the seven kingdoms are on their head, and it doesn't look like their going to get fixed anytime soon.

Hit the jump for the spoilerate review.

Last week's episode contained what is probably the best scene so far this season, the 'interogation' of Arya by Charles Dance, and I said that this is a relationship that is both surprising and delectable, and wished to see more of it. Well, the gods, be they old or new, seemed to have heard me, because this week we get not one, but two scenes of the two of them together. The stronger by far is the one with them alone, discussing fathers, but Arya's nimble avoiding of being recognised by Littlefinger was as impressive a dance as the political one being put on by the men. In a cast as large as this, you expect some fluctuation in terms of talent, but Dance and Maisie Williams might be the best among them. Besides Dinklage, of course, though he didn't have a lot to do this episode, ad frankly didn't impress me much with what he had. Save for the punch, and all. But I wouldn't be surprised if Williams becomes the breakout star of season two, following in Dinklage's foot steps.

But the focus this week was on the boys. Theon Greyjoy continues to be a child playing an adult, his every action betraying the fact that he is a petty, immature, sad little boy. When he's not playing with himself, he throwing temper tantrums, hacking away at his toys and dancing up and down, hoping his father will pat him on the head. Of all the series villains, Theon is the only one I have no sympathy for, and that appeals to me in no way. At least The Tickler was imaginative with his rat buckets. Theon is just pathetic. Who else could stare down a crippled child, get everything he wants, and still kind of lose.

Meanwhile, up in the North, Jon struggles in the same way, wanting so badly to live up to his father. Difference being, Ned will never be proud of Jon, and Jon seem unwilling to do what Theon is more than willing. We are introduced to yet another new character, the Wilding Ygritte, who acts as a kind of corollary to Bran back in Winterfell. While Bran is begging Theon to stop, Ygritte is goading Jon into becoming the thing he so obviously can't.For all his insisting and peacocking, Jon can't follow through, and until he does, he'll remain a shadow of his father.

In King's Landing, the populace is uneasy, and while the royal family sees one of their own off, the people rise up in the episode's only instance of real violence, literally tearing the court attendants limb from limb. The juxtaposition of Joffery attempting to force his command on the rioters, ordering his guards to kill everyone, and the attempted rape of Sansa by three of the desperate masses creates an interesting symmetry. Both pay for their offence in blood, though Joffery gets to keep his life (and his lower intestines). Though, as Tyrion points out, just because he's king doesn't make him special. It's a lesson Joffery needs to learn as he grows wildly out of control, but one I doubt he'll remember for very long.

In all, it wasn't a very bad episode, but it wasn't a very memorable one either. I suppose the middle of the season is the best time to take things easy, don't rock the boat too much. We've had oozy births and baby deaths, and gods only know what is coming at the end. Though, considering how quiet last week was, as was pointed out, the only episode not to feature any nudity at all, and only a single act of violence, one must wonder if this is all just the calm before the storm.

Line of the Night: "What killed him?" "Loyalty." *pause* "You're a sharp little thing, aren't you?"

B*tchslap of the Night: Tyrion gives Joffery a full on, closed fist sock to the jar, a moment which I expect generated that noise you heard Sunday night, all GoT fans collectively shouting out in pleasure as someone finally put that snivelling little turd in his place.
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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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