Game of Thrones, episode 1×06

27 May

fffff I actually skipped a class today to come home early and watch Game of Thrones. This was… a disappointing episode, purely from a writing/pacing point of view, if for no other reason. :/

Cersei

My friends, there is only one word to describe Cersei at this juncture, I’m afraid:
♥ HBIC ♥

I was actually sad she only got the scene with Robert and Ned (I would be happy with 90 minutes of Cersei basically) but OH WHAT A SCENE. “I should wear the armor, and you the gown.” And you know, that’s Cersei’s tragedy right there. Arya’s being taught that you can be a girl and still do whatever you want. Cersei was taught that because she’s a girl only certain avenues are open to her (which is true! Arya’s just a freak accident) and that’s made her close herself off to everyone she might have made an ally of. She has no female friends, her mother’s long dead, and everyone she’s related to who has any power is a dude. And that’s Cersei. She has no models for success or power other than men (who are usually ill suited for it). She just desperately, desperately wishes she were born a man, because oh, how differently her life would have gone there, how much easier it would be to achieve what she’s worked so hard to achieve.

Dany

The thing about the Dany scenes is that I think were really good, if you accept that the Dothraki are and forever shall be portrayed as every racist/Orientalist stereotype in the universe.

This is episode 6 now, and we get them standing around in a circle in the middle of a ~barbaric~ rite (dear creators, no, having Viserys call it barbaric doesn’t automatically exonerate you of ACTUALLY ESTABLISHING IT AS BARBARIC IN THE NARRATIVE), dancing half naked, chanting something unintelligible (really, we had to have Jorah translate? We couldn’t have subtitles for this?) and being violent and cruel.



BARBARIC RITUAL IS BARBARIC

I just. I don’t understand how this happened. I really don’t. Did the creators really look at the books and go “ooh, let’s make this MORE RACIST”? Really? Because the books aren’t perfect, lords know, but THIS? SERIOUSLY?

The Dothraki are basically one giant pastiche. Their clothing makes no sense, we know nothing about their diet (except that they eat Icky Things), their legends (except the occasional convenient/ridiculous anecdote). They are mysterious when they aren’t cruel, superstitious when they aren’t violent. They deserve no respect, they are merely objects to be puzzled by, and perhaps to fear. Compare how Ned’s Godwood or whatever the fuck that stupid tree is called is treated, compared with how the Great Stallion is played for laughs. This would be poor storytelling if, like in Battlestar Galactica, one side held beliefs much closer to those presumed to be held by the viewers, but here it’s inexcusable. There’s no reason for Robert’s “I swear by the Mother I’ll pin this badge on Jaime Lannister” to sound any more ridic than “this is a blessing from the Great Stallion,” and the fact that it does is some messed up shit perpetrated by this show.

Anyway, although I’m epically WTF that by this point Khal Drogo is still a random silent presence (at this rate we’re basically going to get what, 3 lines from him this season?) instead
of one of the most important people in Dany’s life, and Jorah Mormont, who I personally remember absolutely despising in the novel as soon as we find out he’s a traitor, is suddenly some kind of wise guide and conflicted hero. Jorah’s whole point is that he’s the decoy white guy. You’re supposed to assume, as Dany does, that he’s the good guy in all this, but in fact, it’s the Dothraki who are Dany’s people, who support her and teach her and make who she is. Jorah’s a traitor and an asshole.

I liked the dragon eggs though. And I loved Harry Lloyd who plays Viserys. In a cast of brilliant actors, he definitely stands out. His performance was beyond amazing, it completely blew me away, in every scene.


I loved the Jason Momoa shots, naturally, and what little characterization we got of his and Dany’s relationship. I loved that she announced the boy would be named Rhaego (and that apparently she gets to just decide that on her own? LOL) because I think it sort of shows Dany’s commitment to her heritage (for those who haven’t read the books, Dany’s eldest brother was named Rhaegar and there were quite a few other Rhae-somethings in the family).

Because it’s fascinating that Dany doesn’t just become a Dothraki queen. That although we start out with Viserys being the sole heir, the true heir is, of course, Dany, and you suddenly realize that as much as her brother’s always monopolized that heritage, that role, it’s Dany’s too, and she knows it, and she’s never going to give that up. She’s out for blood, for ruling a kingdom she’s never been to, a throne she knows nothing about. She has literally never been to the continent of which she considers herself a rightful heir, that she intends to conquer one day.

Catelyn became a Stark when she was married, her sister became an Aryn. Sansa dreams of being a Baratheon. All these women maintained some sense of their old identity but it was also expected and understood that they become Something Else. That they belong to another realm, now, and have no right to their former house, except of special visits/occasions. Their causes are the causes of their husbands, their effort goes into building the house they married into. Cersei of course rebelled more thoroughly against this, but ultimately that’s held against her. She still very much a Lannister and that’s seen as being against the spirit of her marriage.

By Dany doesn’t give up her heritage. She doesn’t stop being a Targaryan even though she’s now very truly as Dothraki as she’s able to become. She makes an effort, she learns the language, she observes the rites, she does it with a genuine desire to fit it and be a partner to her husband and the kind of wife he needs. But she also has a birthright to that fucking throne and she’s never going that up, never even going to pretend it’s not in her sights, never going to act behind her husband’s back, trying to manipulate him into conquering it for her. She’ll come to him straight up and say, look, this kingdom is MINE, they killed my family, they are my subjects, I want it back.

I just think that’s really fascinating. It’s as if, after spending her entire life giving herself away, being nothing but what others wanted her to be, Dany doesn’t ever intend to give up any part of herself again, now that she’s found this freedom. There’s so much power in her. You look at her and get the sense that whatever she says, whatever she does, she will remain unbowed. Her life and her choices are her own.

Huh, in a weird way, I guess I just articulated to myself what I do love about Dany.

Tyrion & co

Aaaand we continue down the jolly path of Tyrion the Mary Sue and the way the writers of this show are totally in love with him.

I think the main reason think episode suffered in terms of pacing, for me, were the endless, protracted Tyrion scenes. Instead of compressing things a bit, playing 1-2 jokes and moving on, we had scenes of him in the sky cell over and over (and over). Really, I get it. He’s clever, the guard is stupid, he tries to manipulate him, eventually he’ll succeed (as he succeeds in everything). There were a few lovely lines in there (“have you ever thought of possession as an abstract concept?”) but really. Seriously. What the fuck was the point of all the Tyrion scenes, considering I knew he wasn’t going to die (as did everyone watching this show, come on).

But the worst part was the trial. Oh my god the trial x_x I honestly felt like nodding off at some point. Seriously, this is like the difference between having a suggestive scene that shows Dany’s slavegirl instructing in the ways of pleasing a rapist man, and having endless ENDLESS minutes of that slavegirl riding Dany or being naked in a bathtub or whatever for the audience’s enjoyment. FFFFFF. I get that Tyrion is clever and able to talk his way out of everything. There’s no need to go on about this for 20 minutes. Seriously, NOTHING HAPPENS IN THAT SCENE, COME ON.

And of course, my favorite part is the juxtaposition of Catelyn and Lysa as being not only idiots (which, I pretty much agree with! But this was the show REVELING in that and that isn’t what you do with your leading lady, show, I’m sorry) but frigid. You know, frigid, the Freudian term for a defective female sexuality. You know those women, can never take a joke.

Tyrion, in this scene, is humiliating Catelyn and Lysa by talking about jerking off. Truly a scene borrowed from your nearest US teen comedy. And Catelyn, of course (and this is me being angry at the show, because for once the books did not fault Catelyn for this) is incapable of speaking up, of taking control, of answering Tyrion after his fucking insults. Because talk of ~jerking off~ is embarrassing and improper and of course Catelyn is like a ~shy flower~ backing away.

Which, all of this is true! I believe Tyrion would do it (and does it in the book, I think?) I believe Catelyn would react the way she did (she most certainly did not spend that scene being silent, in the book), but… the show is so obviously, overwhelmingly on Tyrion’s side in this, I’m… kind of disgusted. Because Tyrion’s joke is that all these ladies up here can’t handle a dick joke. And the show is going LOL TYRION IS SO COOL, UGH WHY CAN’T GIRLS EVER GET JOKES FFFF THOSE WOMEN SUCK.

And I’m like… really, show? Really? I love Tyrion! He’s a fantastic character! But you need to stop being in love with him because the point of this show is that EVERYONE IS A SHADY ASSHOLE. You’re an asshole or you’re dead. YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT PICK ONE ASSHOLE and side with him and then treat everyone else as blah.

Ugh ugh ugh, fucking scene that went on WAY TOO LONG.

Renly

♥ I’m still not feeling the heavy stereotype silliness (“more interesting than those balls and masquerades you like to throw!”) but you know, he is delightful as a character. “Those were some lucky girls” indeed, ahahahaha.

Sansa

GOD I LOVE HER SCENES SO MUCH. Sansa, you’re gonna break my heart big time, aren’t you. I loved her little scene with the Septa, because it was SO TEENAGER OMG ahahaha Sansa/teenage angst = OTP. And also because I sort of like these little glimpses of how Sansa is more and more like Cersei – or rather, that they’re similar in personality to begin with – and this is how Sansa gets when she’s frustrated and anxious and afraid. She becomes petty and cruel to the people who are closest to her, with whom she’s allowed to be less than curtious. Arya gets angry, gets violent, gets loud, or cries her eyes out. She’s very extroverted. But Sansa will just sit there and embroider and prick her servants until she’s satisfied. She’d lash out against her mother, if she were there.


PAIRING MADE IN HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Ugh, the Joffrey scene, another pacing mistake. That scene also went on WAY TOO LONG. Ugh, I GET THE GIST OF THE SCENE! Seriously! You can move on now! I don’t actually need 10 minutes of him listing all the ways he loves her and whatever, 5 will suffice to get across everythng you intend to get across.

Arya

♥ It’s easy to love Arya, I know, but I am so incredibly impressed with the actress, and the writing was so good, and this scene was paced PERFECTLY (although honestly I’d rather see Arya hitting some sticks instead of Tyrion’s endless trial) and just. FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE EPISODE.

Theon

OH MY GOD HOW IS THERE SO MUCH THEON ON THIS FUCKING SHOW x_x Seriously WHY THE FUCK is he all over every episode? I know I have the unfair advantage of book spoilers but seriously WHAT IS THE POINT. He was an extremely minor character in book 1! WHY IS HE GETTING SO MUCH SCREEN TIME?

Him and Roz was another scene that went on way too long and included a joke that was literally the show creators going EVERYONE LOVES PUSSY RIGHT? 😀

Seriously, I got the gist of it – the atmosphere in Winterfell, the political situation, a bit of Roz characterization – from the first few sentences, there was no need to go ON AND ON about it and hammer it in again about Theon’s background. It’s like THE FIFTH TIME in 6 episodes. My policy with Theon is “peen of GTFO” basically.

Not that I didn’t love Theon being all “if you go to King’s Landing some dude will beat you up and rape you!” and Roz being all “and if I stay here this… will not happen? O_o” OH, THEON.

Other things

Unofficially, this is the misogyny section, lol. It’s occurred to me a while ago, that Martin’s universe has a suspicious overabundance of male sons. I don’t just mean male characters who get the limelight, I mean that in 90% of the families he describes there’s more sons than daughters. Ned had 2 brothers and 1 sister, Robert has 2 brothers, Ned’s kids are 3 boys (+ Jon) and 2 girls, Theon’s family also had a bunch of sons and only one daughter, Cersei has 2 brothers, and at least 3 male cousins (and no female cousins that we know of), the royal children are two sons and one daughter, Loras has at least 2 brothers and 1 sister, Dany had 2 brothers… the only exception (house Martell) is just that, an exception.

And that’s… indicative of a larger problem for me. Because I think what Martin’s done, as a storyteller, is think “what characters do I want to talk about?” and then created those characters as the only ones in the universe. Except JUST BY CHANCE most of those characters happened to be men, and he never bothered looking at that and going “Hm, that’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” Instead it’s just this weird distorted universe where every house has 1 daughter per every 3 sons (and sometimes not even that).

And that’s just… really messed up, man. If you imagine for a moment that the birth ratio should in fact be closer to 50-50, imagine how many more women we’d have in this universe. Imagine how many of the existing characters would have sisters, instead of an endless parade of brothers. Imagine that Martin would have to answer for them all, account and explain for where these women have all gone, what they’ve done with their lives. Not just who they married, but what have they done. Because Cersei, lord knows, is a player, and so is Margery, and so is Asha and so was Lyanna, and all of them are the only girls in households with lots of sons. And I just wonder, if there were actually as many women in this universe as there should have been, WHAT WOULD THAT WORLD LOOK LIKE? If every woman is a player, WHERE ARE THE REST OF MY WOMEN?

I think this is one of the reasons I get so annoyed at people who praise Martin for writing “so many” strong female characters. Because Martin only writes strong women (we’ll not get into the definition of strong or how many characters of Martin’s I think actually qualify for that category) in isolation. None of them have sisters and if they do those sisters aren’t present and if they’re present they’re enemies/hindrances/don’t have a real relationship. This is unlike Ned, who had deep, meaningful, positive relationships with his brothers, unlike Robert and his brothers who, as much as they didn’t get along, are still there for each other for most of their lives, unlike Jaime and Tyrion, BFFs. Yes, house Martell is an exception to this, but that’s just ONE HOUSE that shows up in BOOK FOUR, and is already an exception to most of the rules that apply to the other houses (monogamous marriages, for example).

What Martin does – if we exclude the one exception of Martell – is pick out One Single Strong Woman and write an interesting storyline with her. And sometimes when he gets tired of that storyline, or he thinks it would play better if this woman were to die, get maimed, go mad or disappear, he does that. Because there isn’t a wider context that he’s aware of. He looks at most mainstream media (and I can say that, because unlike a lot of other authors he actually comes from the realm of TV) and goes “hmm, there are not enough women here, I should have more women in my stories.”

Whereas I look at most media and go “there is a systemic problem here. It’s not just that there aren’t enough women, it’s that the absence is a mark of oppression and marginalization, and that problem has to be addressed within the narrative to really do a story justice.”

And Martin is just like “you want more women? Here are some more. I have 4 now, is that enough? FOUR WHOLE WOMEN! And 125 men. But FOUR WOMEN!” And then, as each female character is seen in isolation, as Martin feels good about himself (so to speak) for having So Many Women, he treats them each like an unrelated and “equal” storyline to the male characters. He can fuck up a dude, right? So he can fuck up a woman. Nevermind that he has pathetically few female characters to begin with, and nevermind that the context for the treatment of men and women in fantasy the universe media is wildly different. Equality! Isn’t that what you want? Everyone getting treated the same?

Ugh, anyway. THAT IS SOME BULLSHIT. (I feel like rewatching the “Pride & Prejudice” mini series just for the whole EVERYONE HAS SISTERS thing.)

Random caps


Oh look, it’s the Ridiculous Wigs Brigade.


Did they seriously go off hunting JUST THE FOUR OF THEM? What fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! THE KING GOES HUNTING, THAT IS A FUCKING PRODUCTION. Nevermind WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEIR HORSES?! THE KING GOES ALONE WITH THE HEAD OF THE KINGSGEARD, HIS BROTHER AND HIS SQUIRE INTO THE FORREST? What is this, one of those historical shows where royalty traipses around everywhere unescorted?


Obligatory Littlefinger cap.


Sansa is SAD at these developments!

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