[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 8, "The Prince of Winterfell"


Courtesy of HBO

Gather round children, it's story time in Westeros, and everyone has a tale to tell, and each is more bloody then the last. Plot takes a backseat this week to character development, especially for some of the new or minor characters that we need too know better. Old relationships fall apart, and new ones emerge. Old battles are left behind and new ones approach on the horizon, and all the while the snark level increases dramatically.

And we're given a very clear illustration of why the invention of zippers is necessary for civilisation to progress.

Hit the jump for the spoileriferous review.

Alas, the romance has come to an end. Tywin Lannister has rode off to war, leaving young Arya behind, and we as viewers must mourn the passing of the best relationship to come out of the show. However, we can celebrate at the screen creation of my favourite pairing in the novels, that of Brianne and Jamie, as they make their escape towards King's Landing. It was through this pairing that these characters became two of my favourites, and I hope that the series is able to capture even a glimmer of what was on the page. Considering how the rest of the series had gone, I'm not worried.

What kind of evening was it? It was a quite one, and a personal one. It's in these quiet moments, as we discovered a few weeks ago, that the relationships of characters can be examined without having to give way to a sword fight. It seemed that every scene became a monologue at some point, while a character would reminisce about some horrible thing they'd seen in their life. Not that I'm complaining. They were wonderfully written personal moments, my favourite being Brom's recollections of thief activities during sieges, but the best performed one was certainly the Westeros CPR training Lady Nightingale received when she was younger.

Comedy too had a chance to bloom in the quiet times, as every pair of characters had one that was clearly borrowing from the Joss Whedon book of sarcasm. I'm a big fan of the comedy on this show. Farts and morning wood jokes aside, it tends to draw upon the comfort levels of those doing the funny. Tyrion and Bran's scene, for instance, was structured like an old married couple so comfortable with each other, they bicker because they haven't got anything else to do. Varys and Tyrion, on the other hand, is structured like two office rivals, chummy enough, but knowing equally well that the other could go to the boss at a moment's notice.

Then there is Cersei. She has, I think, the most complex relationships with individuals as anyone else on the show, if only because she's one of the few that doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve. To Joffery, she's Lady Macbeth. To Sansa, she's Maleficent. To Jamie, she's a hormonal, love sick teenager. And to Tyrion, she's an equal. Or, she was, and that was I believe the episodes big reveal. That scene (side note: notice how often we've seen Cersei drinking wine compared to Tyrion, and compare that to last year. Heavy hangs the head, indeed) where she brags so readily that she's figured Tyrion out, that she's got his whore and will go running off to daddy if she doesn't get her way. Watch Tyrion's face when Roz is brought in. The way Dinklage plays it, his expression never changes and yet you can see the gears working. Cersei's sin is her pride, and Tyrion understands that now. She's not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. Which makes his anger in the next moment not a cover, and not fear, but disappointment. He thought she was an equal in the game, but she's like the rest, inferior. She's not smart, she's crass and insane, and that makes her more dangerous, because that means she can't be controlled. Combine that with her emotional break down last week, and her shell is starting to crack.

Elsewhere, Dany continued to be boring and useless. Arya and Gendry are striking out from Harrenhal, and Theon's hold is beginning to slip. Apparently the Greyjoy family pass time is kicking out your family members feet from under them. Sister wasn't there two minutes before she started shitting on him. I noticed too, that my complaint that this season's episodes are being named after parts of the plot that have little relevance on that episode might be unfounded. I'll have to go back and watch them again, but this week's Prince of Winterfell wasn't Theon, as named in the episode, but Robb, who out right says he wasn't raised to be the Prince, but the Lord. Or, it could be Bran, whose death last week while King Robb was away as inspired so much activity.

Davos and Stannis returned briefly, and that has been this season's major disappointment for me. If he were given more screen time, I'm certain Liam Cunningham could be as popular in his role as Sean Bean was in his. He's certainly having the most fun, and the writers are doing a marvellous job writing for him. In 8 episodes, he's only appeared in 5, and in very few scenes within those, generally one or two. He's the most underutilised resource they've had this season, and deserves better. Because that scene on the boat, like their last scene on the boat, was wonderful. These are two men, not master and servant, but like Ned and Robert were: friends, who owe a debt to one another (as Stannis tells us in his history bite). And Stannis proves yet again that, unlike Ned, he's not given over to absolutes. Some men talk behind his back, yes, but some men insult him to his face as well. Davos takes things in stride, and reacts accordingly, unlike nearly everyone else on this show.

A final thought: Jamie mentioned three men who could beat him. Last season made it obvious that one of these men was Ned Stark. So, who were the other two he alluded to? Rhaegar? Ser Barristan? The Mountain? Who else in the seven kingdoms could take on Jamie Lannister and win?

Best Line of the Night: Upon Cersei's reveal that she has Tyrion's whore, his reply "I thought you liked blonds?"
B*tchslap: None? Good gods, the show is slipping.
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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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