Game of Thrones Review: “Lord Snow”

(for my GoT character reference guide, go here)

Well no one died, and I don’t even think anyone got laid, but that doesn’t mean the third installment of Game of Thrones wasn’t an interesting one.

It’s becoming clear that the series is less about the epic LOTR-style battles we’ve come to expect from the medieval genre, and is a much more political affair. I probably should have been clued into that by the title, but it took me seeing mayor Tommy Carcetti join the cast to fully realize that was the case.

Yes, HBO tends to recycle its best actors, and Game of Thrones has pulled the sleaziest mayor in history, Aiden Gillen’s Carcetti, to play a highly political role on this show. As I understand it, he’s the king’s brother Petyr, and a former flame of Lady Stark, now relegated to handling minor kingdom affairs and running brothels. Update: I am wrong, he is just the treasurer and not related to the king. That was the other bearded guy at the meeting who was the king’s brother.

Any way we could get McNulty back too?

He’s a good addition to the cast, and where we’ll kick off our recap of this week’s events. Lady Stark has arrived at King’s Landing to inform Ned that the Lannisters are trying to kill their boy for unknown reasons, who has woken up back up north with a case of “plot amnesia” to keep things nice and docile for the moment. The dagger used in his assassination attempt is revealed to have been owned by first Petyr, and then eventually by Tyrion Lannister himself. Suspicion abounds.

But the little imp had naught to do with it. Rather, he’s wandered up north with John Snow, who has come to discover that the wall and it’s guardians aren’t quite the mythic legends they’re made out to be. Rather, they’re  a rag tag group of criminals and poor folk, and his status as a highly trained noble causes a bit of a stir among the new recruits, and Tyrion saves him from having his throat opened by a knife after a sparring session.

Speaking of sparring, back at King’s Landing, little Arya is still fuming over Prince Smallmouth’s lies that got an innocent dog killed, and her dad recruits her a new sword instructor so she can direct her anger elsewhere. The man looks like Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder mixed with a child molester, but I hope that’s just a vibe only I’m getting and that actually doesn’t happen.

“Come here little girl, I need to show you a new grip!”

And finally across the narrow sea the Dothraki are still wandering around in tall grass doing, well I’m not sure exactly. Are they going to find some boats so they can invade the kingdom or what? Wannabe king Viserys whose name I already hate spelling learns a lesson when he tries to forcefully control his sister Daenerys, a practice which both parties are more than used to. But as she’s Queen Barbarian now, she has an army of bodyguards to keep him at bay, and the twerp learns that he holds no real power among these people, not even over his own little sister whom he used to molest freely. Uh oh.

Also, Daenerys is having a baby, something that’s a blessing from The Great Stallion. Don’t even tell me these people don’t regularly have sex with horses.

I think the most interesting bits of the episodes were the brief glimpses we got into the mythology proceeding the show. We hear a little more about Jaime Lannister’s betrayal of the mad Targaryen king that had him literally stabbing him in the back. We learn that Ned’s father was burned alive by the king while Jaime and everyone watched.

Outside of Tyrion, the Lannisters are the most loathsome family I can remember seeing on TV. Even without the incest.

Most interestingly, we hear about the very strange seasonal cycle that plagues this world, which results in incredibly long or short winters and summers. The show is on the tail end of a nine year summer, but the days are growing shorter and winter looms. And old woman tells a tale of a winter that lasted an entire generation where the White Walkers ran rampant with their undead horses and pale spiders. She did say spiders, right? I thought I heard that right.

What kind of crazy planet is this? I understand long stretches of winter, as way up north it will be bright or dark for six months at a time, but to have it be so varied? Must have some sort of crazy orbit around the sun. Or maybe I should just stop trying to analyze something that’s clearly been labeled a “fantasy” series.

I’m wondering where Snow’s character goes from here. I want to see him head out into the great wilderness and come back with some answers. As for the politick-ing in King’s Landing, that interests me less. My favorite characters still remain Tyrion (Peter Dinklage is the best actor on the show by far) and little Arya whom I hope gets to legitimately kick some ass at a latter date with her “needle.”

I measure how much I like certain shows by how much I wish they continued on when they end. Sometimes after forty minutes you’re glad an episode is coming to a close in certain shows, but with Game of Thrones? Even after almost an hour I still get sad each time it fades to black. Let’s hope it can keep me this engrossed indefinitely.

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  1. Quick correction – Aiden Gillen portrays Lord Petyr Baelish, nicknamed “Littlefinger” after the rocky peninsular region (The Fingers) his family is from. Gethin Anthony portrays Lord Renly Baratheon, the bearded younger brother of King Robert Baratheon that we meet in the council scene. Petyr serves the court as Master of Coin, while Renly is Master of Laws.

  2. The show is fucking awesome. I can’t agree with you on one remark though – the political side of things is quite interesting. Also, the queen, despite being a Lannister, is pretty likable, if you know what I mean. The Imp rocks, too! Jaime has the typical douche vibe around him, but that white haired dude (his uncle? father?) seemed cool.

  3. Hi,

    just thought I’d set a few things straight in regards of some kind of important parts of the mythos that you got wrong.

    Petyr is not the kings brother, but indeed someone who was in love with Lady Stark (then Tull) in her youth. He challanged Eddards brother Brandon who was bethroded to Catheryn before his death (and Eddards subsequent replacing of him as Catheryns future husband) and lost. He is however a part of the Kings inner circle and Roberts treasurymaster (of sorts).

    Also Ayras sword is actually named Needle. 🙂

  4. @Anon

    The white haired dude(i assume you are referring to the other guard in the scene with the king) is Barristan Selmy, a once upon a time badass. No relation to Jaime. They both are knights in the Kingsguard. Hence, the same armor and sigil.

  5. The white-haired dude is Barristan “the Bold” Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (the king’s Secret Service bodyguards). Jaime is also a member of the Kingsguard.

    In the books they are armored all in white, but the visual didn’t work during testing. So, the Kingsguard actors wear armor with some white detailing and white cloaks (in contrast to the gold cloaks of the King’s Landing guards).

  6. “I measure how much I like certain shows by how much I wish they continued on when they end. Sometimes after forty minutes you’re glad an episode is coming to a close in certain shows, but with Game of Thrones? Even after almost an hour I still get sad each time it fades to black. Let’s hope it can keep me this engrossed indefinitely.”

    Exactly how I feel. Just going to recyle a post I made to my site:

    “Absolutely loving this series, so far. I know nothing of the novels but still am totally engrossed in the characters and various story arcs. I love that the focus is on those things, rather than just a bunch of action sequences and magic or whatever. The slow burn of the story progression suits me more than just fine. Wanting to know what’s going to happen, with all of the political intrigue, what side someone’s actually, if they’re even on a side. Its like crack. I also love that a lot of the more fantastical things are only hinted at (the camera constantly panning from the dragon eggs to Daenarys, the White Walkers and that whole story from the old lady, “The Coming Winter”, etc).”

  7. While I agree that Peter Dinklage is fantastic, calling him “the best actor by far” is a bit of a disservice to the rest of the cast.
    Mark Addy (the king) in particular showed some incredible acting chops in this episode. Go back and watch the scene with Jaime and Barristan when they speak of their first kills and I think you’d agree.

  8. They nailed Joffrey so far, I despised him in the books, and hate him just as much in the show. They did a great job so far on casting overall.

    I wish the pacing of the show was abit slower, I know they only have ten episodes, but I think they could of stretched it out to 15-20 so easily. There are alot of gaps with Bran and the Dothraki missing from the books, it’s still a great show, just wish they could expand more into the series.

    One example is when John is saying goodbye to Bran, in the novel there was more tension with Catheryn as he tried to make amends before leaving. As he walks out of the room Cat says “It should have been you”. I wish they kept that in, as it really nails how this world treats bastard kids.

  9. Just a bit on Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish and his “relationship” with Catelyn:

    Sure, he was, and is, in love with her, but SHE would never consider him a proper match (remember how she put him down with “you’ll always be like a brother to me?” in the scene with Ned?)

    Catelyn is Nobility, whereas Petyr is merely..nobility.

    That’s how this world works, and Petyr is all too aware of that.

    I think she found his duel with a Stark (another Noble) over her “affections” rather amusing..

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