While Season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’ has been dominated by plot arcs about personal hardships (Arya & The Hound, Brienne, Sansa, Theon / Reek, Bran) and political intrigue (Tyrion, Smooth Bisexual Prince Oberyn, Stannis / Braavos, Baberaham Lincoln,
Mayor Carcetti Littlefinger), this week’s installment served us a straight-up, balls-out action flick.
As I mentioned last week, this week’s episode enlisted the same director as Season 2’s ‘Blackwater’ episode, the only other episode I can think of that was contained to a single night and location. It also broke the record, previously held by ‘Blackwater’, for the show’s most expensive episode.
So, why then, did My Mets Fan Brother and I talk yesterday about how it left us somewhat underwhelmed?
Well, before we do that…
WARNING: This post contains spoilers that include information regarding up to and including Season 4, Episode 9 of ‘Game of Thrones’. You’ve been adequately warned.
Don’t get us wrong; it was fun. The giants and mammoths were cool. The massive Wall scythe was badass, albeit borderline caricature. The fighting was great.
Still, I found myself enjoying it most when I was watching it like a kind of cheesy but still very entertaining action movie; think anything from the ‘Fast & Furious’ series.
“Dave, are you really comparing ‘Game of Thrones’ to a movie where Ludacris yells ‘They got a tank!!’?”
#RealTalk: I like the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies, so the parallels are to something that I like. Keep that in mind and your fanboy indignation in check.
Sure, the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies were over the top and rife with bad dialogue; but, they didn’t set out to make ‘Citizen Kane’. The F&F filmmakers wanted to keep an audience engaged for an hour and a half and give them a few “Oh shit!” moments to talk about with their buddies on the way out of the theater.
This isn’t to say that the acting / dialogue in ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ was nearly as bad as we encounter in the F&F series. Owen Teale acted his ass off as Ser Alliser Thorne; from his admission to Jon Snow (who knows nothing) and subsequent command at the top of the Wall, to his fight scenes in Castle Black, he stole the episode. Jon Snow had another strong outing.
But, let’s be honest: there was way too much Sam and Gilly this week. I put out a general solicitation for opinions on the episode, and ya’ll seem to be a little bit warmer on Sam than I, but I found most of his scenes to be borderline painful. Him trying to get Jon Snow to give him the birds and the bees talk was wholly unnecessary. And then, with the battle starting, he gave Gilly this speech:
Nevertheless, the action was the star of the show. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I heard some people describe this week’s ‘GoT’ installment as “shocking”. Huh? Sure, it was exciting – I’ll even break out the cliché “visually stunning” – but shocking? They killed one main character whose plot arc was, essentially, over. I’m all about having Rose Leslie on my TV screen (albeit probably not enough to start watching ‘Downton Abbey’), but there was nothing left for Ygritte to do. Forget television, that wasn’t even the most shocking main character killed by a child on HBO. (‘The Wire’ has a firm grip on that title).
I wonder if they over-thought the scene where Jon Snow holds the dying Ygritte. I spent the slow-motion shot thinking “Get up! Keep fighting! You’re gonna get mirked just sitting there!” Also, I can’t be the only one who found Ygritte’s last words being “You know nothing, Jon Snow” cheesy. Just me?
That said, she wasn’t wrong. Jon Snow doesn’t even know what his plan to kill Rayder is. In its current draft form, that plan is:
- Head north of the wall
- Kill Rayder
I just broke a personal record for Trey Parker / Matt Stone references.
This season of ‘Game of Thrones’ has been, very much, a slow build. While this week wasn’t the payoff, I still think it was necessary. It finally advanced a plot arc that had become somewhat stagnant. It provided a refreshing change from the methodical to brooding pace of most of the rest of the season. It left us exhaling just in time for a bunch of crazy shit to happen next week. Well played, Weiss and Benioff.
Speaking of next week, does anything change my prediction of 2+ dead Lannisters next week? Yeah. While I do think that Tyrion will be executed, I think they’re going to drag that into next season. What better way to draw eyeballs to the Season 5 premier than to have the show’s most popular (and only Emmy-winning) character’s life hanging in the balance? I have no doubt the HBO suits want Tyrion around as long as possible, but, saving his demise for next year seems like the logical way to cut the baby ( / little person) in half.
If you checked out ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ on HBO Go (like I did, because the Spurs / Heat game was close), you may have noticed that the picture for the Season Finale preview featured Arya. Valar Morghulis?
HBO blocked off an extra fifteen minutes for the Finale. I’m sure we all join together in hope that the extra quarter hour is for crazy ‘Game of Thrones’ plot twists and not extended previews of a show that may or may not be about a mass alien abduction starring (?) Kate from ‘Lost’.