Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GoT - The Song of Arya and Arya Series

Another note: I've been rather melodramatic in my responses to the goods and bads of the series thus far. So much so that Mele finds it outside of my character to develop such strong emotions for a series that thus far can best be summed up by the word Boring. The answer to this is simple: when Josh originally lent me A Game of Thrones in 1996, it quickly became my favorite fantasy series, and Josh and I counted down the days until the sequel, A Clash of Kings, came out in 1998. With each new book, I reread the previous books, and this continued for each ensuing sequel, to this day, as we all await A Dance of Dragons (and if you're keeping score at home, yes, I have read A Game of Thrones over five times). There's something about being there from the start, for sure, and while Martin was winning awards for the The Song of Ice and Fire series, it wasn't until 2011 that it reached a best seller list. But the main reason, at the time, was that I was reading these books that were told mostly from the points of view of children my age. As a fantasy nerd whose dream was to write fantasy novels, I emailed George R. R. Martin, and he responded to my questions, and this obviously meant a lot to me - enough that there is a piece of me invested in the show whether I am enjoying it or not.

The Good
  • The main subject of those emails was Jon Snow, because Jon Snow was a boy my age. The Jon Snow in the HBO series is a bit on the older side, but I find myself still being drawn to him. Last episode I expressed concerns that his presence wouldn't be able to buoy the scenes at The Wall, but so far, aside from way too much foreshadowing about spookiness, I found the scenes at The Wall to be rather enjoyable. However: where's Ghost?

  • Of course, the best moments of the last two episodes belong to Arya, and I don't see that changing. She just makes you smile, which is exactly when she did in the books, and it will be interesting to see how much of that adorableness she is able to maintain as her character progresses. That said, Syrio the Dance Master will always maintain his adorableness.

  • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is cast perfectly. Maybe that has to do with him already being a politician in my head from The Wire, but either way, both him and Varys (one of my favorite characters) are looking to be pretty awesome and accurate portrayals of key characters in King's Landing, and that's vital. (My only problem here is that Littlefinger seems to be getting more screen time that I would have guessed appropriate.)

  • I think Eddard/Sean Bean has improved in episode three. All he really needs to do is be worried about Robert, annoyed at politicians, and earnest about fatherhood, and he'll fill the bill. The scenes with Arya should go a long way to make him a tad more likable, which would be good for the show in general. (They could stand to go easier on the Petyr/Cat/Ned triangle.)

The Bad
  • This episode took a step back in quality, and I kind of know why. We arrive in King's Landing, and all of a sudden audiences are introduced to a whole bunch of new people (yay Renly!) and scenarios, and this has got to be disorienting for those of us who haven't read the book half a dozen times. Because of that, the first fifteen minutes of the episode is full of fake dialogue that would never actually be said. The characters are used as puppets for the writers to summarize things for the audience and I'm not really sure this is the way to go about it. And not all of the actors can make "Hey remember when we had a mad king" comments look as real and engaging as Mark Addy.

  • I have to pause a moment to shake my head at Joffrey. The development of his character isn't all that inaccurate, though he's showing signs of being a little more evil than seems realistic. But it all goes down the drain because Joffrey is supposed to be, on a superficial level, prince valiant. He's supposed to be this beyond-handsome teenager on his way to becoming a paragon of royalty. Doofusface is changing Joffrey's identity by simply looking like a Doofusface.

  • Meanwhile, back with the Dothraki... Dany is becoming a little easier to root for, but the whole setup is just so hard to grasp. So much of Dany's story in the books requires her inner monologue and interaction between herself, her brother and the knight. The show is pressed for time, so instead of showing Dany slowly gain confidence and win over her subjects, they decide, hey, let's have her stop the caravan all of a sudden and sum up months with just one scene. Effective, I guess. Are there better, more subtle ways to deal with this? I think so.

Episode 3: C-.. I am still very excited to see The Hand's Tourney, and to be introduced to all of those characters. I think it would be awesome if the show spent an entire episode on the Tourney in King's Landing and ignored Dany, Winterfell and Jon Snow until the following episode, to allow time to pass in those storylines.


  1. New favorite character: the wet nurse. Seriously, she's, at first blush, this kindly old lady taking care of the crippled kid. Then she suddenly unloads a torrent of awesome horribleness, and then nonchalantly exists like it was nothing. She may now join Catelyn Stark on her ever-quest of beheading vengeance.

  2. I basically had no idea what was going on in Dany's storyline last night. The episode did take a little bit a step back, since so many characters had to be introduced again.

    I was a little bit bothered by the emphasis on telling the audience the history. I would kinda prefer if it was just alluded to instead of having two characters having an entire conversation about the mad king. Luke is right that they are handfeeding people too much.

    I still enjoyed the episode and I'm really looking forward to the next one since there will be more in depth Kings Landing stuff now that Petyr and Varys have been introduced.