Monday, May 23, 2011

Game of Thrones 6 "A Golden Crown" (Review)

Spoilers ahoy!

One of the most difficult lessons methinks life has to teach us is that people lie.  Sometimes they do it without any such intention.  If you want to win the Game of Thrones, or simply survive it, learning that lesson cannot be overestimated.  Or, as Sun Tzu put it, "Know your self, know your enemy and in a thousand battles you will know only victory."

Much easier said that done!

Way back in episode one, Danaerys of House Targaryan seemed such the fragile flower under the none-too-kind fist of her brother.  Remember?

Going back to the rest of episode for now, King Robert and the rest of Westeros face a disaster brewing--two of the most powerful houses look to start fighting each other.  Alas, the noble Starks are probably in the wrong.  Does anyone believe Tyrion Lannister tried to have young Brandon killed?  And is taking him to the looney Lady Lysa of the Vale really someone to find out either way?  Catelyn's sister or not, the woman comes across as worse bitch that Cercei.

Think about that for a second.

But if there is a survivor among these characters, it is Tyrion.  He tricks his way into demanding a public trial by combat--a wild gamble at best, but which pays off.  A shrewd mercenary proves perfectly willing to fight for a member of the wealthiest family in the Seven Kingdoms--and proves ruthless enough to kill Lady Lysa's knightly champion without honor, but (more to the point) successfully.

Lord Stark meanwhile finds himself drafted (again) to be King's Hand while King Robert goes hunting (killing things clears his mind, he says--in fact he waxes nostalgic for the "good ol' days" of war against the Mad King, Danaerys' dad).  Sitting in the King's stead, Stark proceeds to raise quite a ruckus.  Seems the Mountain That Rides--the gigantic and vicious knight sworn to the Lannisters--is attacking the lands of Catelyn's Stark's brother.  The King's Hand tells a hundred men to go capture him, attaining him for treason and stripping Mountain of his knighthood, then demands Lord Lannister come to King's Landing to account for his retainer's actions.  This in the wake of Jaime Lannister stabbing Ned Stark and killing the man's own retainer in the streets--all in retaliation for Catelyn taking Tyrion prisoner.

One wonders if this is how dominoes was invented way back when?

In an example of how the game of thrones is played better, Joffrey goes and woos Sansa, apologizing for his mean words and promising she will be his queen.  The poor (silly) girl, totally taken in, gets her first kiss from mini-Caligula and will no doubt do whatever he asks of her.  Sansa seems destined for an awakening almost as ugly as that awaiting a certain would-be Dragon...

Lord Stark, realizing things are getting unsafer by the hour, wants his daughters to head back to Winterfell.  They object--each for reasons of their own (Arya is finally getting good with a sword) which leads to an important exchange.  Arya points out Joffrey is not a lion.  That's his mother's family's sigil!  Sansa says Joffrey is nothing like King Robert--a fact of which she strongly approves, but which lights up a candle above their father's head (no lightbulbs in Westeros).  He goes and checks out that tome Jon Arryn found so engrossing prior to his murder--a geneology book that describes every single member of King Robert's family for generations.  Black hair.  Black hair.  Black hair.  Black hair.  Black hair.  Until...Joffrey.  Golden hair.

Of course, we're not surprised, are we?  We the audience know that Queen Cercei has been committing incest with her twin brother for...who knows how long?  Come to think of it, all three royal children are blond...

Back in Winterfell, Brandon continues to dream about a crow with three eyes.  He also tries out his new specially built saddle that allows him to ride.  While his brother Robb ponders his duties now that the Lannisters are openly attacking his kinsmen, Theon Greyjoy their ward/hostage from the Iron Islands argues about what should be done.  Alas Brandon rides ahead, finding himself confronted by some brigands--evidently Wyldlings fleeing south.  They explicitly mention going somewhere where there are no White Walkers...

Yeah, the real crisis is up north, beyond the Wall, where God-Knows-What primordial evil is brewing, bring the dead back to life as well as heralding a winter longer than lifetimes...!  No one is paying any attention to that though!

The upshot is that all the Wyldings save one end up dead.  The survivor is a woman named Osha who agrees to enter into the service of the Starks.  I am thrilled to note she is played by Natalia Tena, aka Tonks in Harry Potter!  Pardon me while I squeeeee!

But this week's episode focuses on the title, the golden crown Viserys thinks should be his.  It has dawned upon the Targaryan Pretender that the Dothraki actually love his little sister, and he finds himself jealous.  Jealous enough to do something sad and infantile and very, very, very dangerous.  Drunk, he enters into a feast where Khal Drogo and his people are celebrating a prophecy that says Danaerys bears the future Khal of Khals, whose herd shall be all people everywhere in the world.  The would be Dragon pulls a sword on his sister, demanding the golden crown he was promised.  Danaerys doesn't even blink.  She calmly translates her husband's agreement--he will give Viserys a crown of gold that will inspire dread in all who see it.  Just as calmly, she watches as the Dothraki pin him down while Drogo pours melted gold over her brother's head.

"He was no dragon," she says.  "Fire cannot kill a dragon."

Yeah, a delicate flower.


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