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BethR

Game of Thrones

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And no, it's not just you. In fact, after seeing the first episode, I wondered whether she'd actually watched it herself, as the sexual stuff is pretty unpleasant and she seemed to be thinking of some kind of stereotypical romance novel fantasy scenario. Other women I know have said much the same.

On a similar note, Alan Sepinwall comments on the show's treatment of women:

One of the themes running through this episode - through the series, really - is the notion of men, particularly men of power and breeding, being able to take and do what they want, particularly from and to women. Viserys seems almost giddy to check out his naked sister and imagine the army she can fetch him ("I would let his whole tribe f**k you - all 40,000 men and their horses, too, if that's what it took."), and Dany in turn has no choice but to wed this alien hulk, and to tearfully let him have his way with her on their wedding night. As Ned notes of his best friend, King Robert gets what he wants, when he wants - up to and including making out with other women in full view of his wife. (Though Robert, of course, doesn't know what we'll learn about Cersei's own extracurricular activities.) It's not the most female-friendly environment, but the series is very much aware of that, and sympathetic to the plight of its female characters.

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Episode 2 was more gripping than episode 1. Hope this trend continues. Also, Cultural Learnings' review addresses the series "woman question", comparing Sansa & Daenerys, and responding to another critic who describes Daenerys' behavior in ep. 2 as "Stockholm Syndrome," Myles writes:

While I see where Weisman is coming from, and the pacing of the series does mean that we rush into this particular realization (and lack the inner dialogue that might more clearly represent Dany’s perspective), I think he misreads this section of the episode on a number of levels. First, I don’t think that this is about asserting her sexuality so much as it is about asserting control over her sexuality, a fine distinction if there ever was one. My mind keeps going back to that scene where she asks her handmaids about dragons, and how Doreah’s answer demonstrates a sort of playful relationship with the world around her. While the other repeat the traditional gospel, suggesting that “it is known,” Doreah has an alternate perspective, and what Dany is searching for is a way to take a situation defined by duty and servitude (to her brother more than Drogo, frankly) and find something more.

To Weisman’s point, perhaps it is strange that she doesn’t look for a way out, but who is going to help her? Her brother is the king-in-waiting, which means that Mormont’s sword is sworn to him, and Viserys was the one who put her in this position in the first place. Dany is in no position to fight against her circumstances, but she is in a position to start to control them.

I always like reading his reviews, because they're very much about this kind of "looking closer" (to borrow Jeffrey Overstreet's phrase).

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Episode 2 was more gripping than episode 1. Hope this trend continues. Also, Cultural Learnings' review addresses the series "woman question", comparing Sansa & Daenerys, and responding to another critic who describes Daenerys' behavior in ep. 2 as "Stockholm Syndrome," Myles writes:

Agreed on the above, Beth. There were a lot of standout moments in this episode, but a few scenes really got me: Jon's approach of the Wall; the scene with Arya and Jon saying goodbye (Myles is right — Nymeria is adorable here); the juxtaposition of

Sandor casually bringing back the body of Mycah, the butcher's boy, and Ned preparing to kill Lady.

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So, yes. The second episode was better than the first. The direwolves are awesome. For another thing, I suddenly think this has the potential to be Peter Dinklage's best role on film in his career. Every expression, every line of dialogue, every smile and joke that flies over his listeners' heads ... is absolutely perfect. Two episodes in, he's already turning into the most nuanced, likable, wise character on the show. Sean Bean and Mark Addy have a great camaraderie together. You get the impression that their friendship is both strong and about to be sorely tested by the hardships and dangers of being king in a medieval world.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Coster-Waldau's Lannister just yet. He's obviously a powerful force to be reckoned with. He seeks out and challenges and teases characters (already both Ned and Jon). But somehow Coster-Waldau is playing him like he's keeping something back - it seems like there's something under his sleeve about all the power play that he's restrained. There's something unspoken behind all his taunting. You can't help but get the impression that he means more than he says.

Lena Headey's Cersei is turning out better than I expected. It's a well-crafted scene when she tells Catelyn about her own dead son, brings tears to her eyes, and all Catelyn (and the rest of us) can do is stare at her and wonder when she's telling the truth and when she's not. She doesn't seem to have any of those "tells" (that are supposed to give away when you're lying). Then, close to the end, she turns almost into Nurse Ratched to King Robert's McMurphy. He's the king. He doesn't care about this other than being disgusted at his son. He doesn't want this to come between him and his friendship with Ned, and yet she somehow manages to direct orders on a tyrannical level that makes him appear weak, helpless and frustrated.

Besides Dinklage's Tyrion, I wouldn't be suprised if Maisie Williams' Arya Stark becomes another of the best characters on the show.

Oh, and did I mention the direwolves are awesome?

Edited by Persiflage

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I can't remember if you're read the books or not, Jeremy. You mentioned two fan favorites, with Tyrion and Arya.

What did you think of Sandor (the Hound, Joffrey's scarred bodyguard)? I realize he hasn't had much screen time, but still....

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I'm not quite sure what to make of Coster-Waldau's Lannister just yet. He's obviously a powerful force to be reckoned with. He seeks out and challenges and teases characters (already both Ned and Jon). But somehow Coster-Waldau is playing him like he's keeping something back - it seems like there's something under his sleeve about all the power play that he's restrained. There's something unspoken behind all his taunting. You can't help but get the impression that he means more than he says.

I haven't seen the series, but this sounds very true to the character in the novels. Jaime has become one of my favorite characters simply because there's a lot underneath the surface that takes awhile to emerge.

Oh, and did I mention the direwolves are awesome?

This makes me glad. Ghost rules... at least in the novels. Haven't seen any of the HBO series yet.

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I can't remember if you're read the books or not, Jeremy. You mentioned two fan favorites, with Tyrion and Arya.

What did you think of Sandor (the Hound, Joffrey's scarred bodyguard)? I realize he hasn't had much screen time, but still....

I've only read the first one years ago, I just bought my first copies of the first two and am currently re-reading book 1. Now that I'm reading it again, I've got all the actors in my head as each character, which is kind of fun. Never been much of one for fantasy novels, but I'll still probably still read the first four before the next one comes out in July.

Not sure what to think of the Hound yet. But Joffrey ... poor kid, so easy to hate, Gleeson's probably going to get himself typecast after this.

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For an episode that's basically all exposition, episode three ("Lord Snow") was pretty gripping. I've seen a few people gripe online that the plot didn't move forward here; that might be true in a sense, but the significant amount of character backstory provided helped flesh a lot out and helped add some weight behind things.

Some more important characters showed up, way more than I want to list. Some great scene-chewing with Jaime and Ned, plus really wonderfully done stuff with the Night's Watch. Glad to see Syrio Forel show up too.

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Some more important characters showed up, way more than I want to list.

Whoa - no one told me that Mr. Tulkinghorn from the '05 Bleak House was Tywin Lannister, or that Mayor Carcetti from The Wire was Petyr Baelish. Good casting choices.

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Whoa - no one told me that Mr. Tulkinghorn from the '05 Bleak House was Tywin Lannister, or that Mayor Carcetti from The Wire was Petyr Baelish. Good casting choices.

Aidan Gillen was good in his first episode as Baelish, though not perfect. Littlefinger is such a nuanced character that it'll probably take Gillen a while to get it spot-on.

In other Game of Thrones news, the ratings actually rise for the third episode!

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And now Peter Dinklage is in trouble with the good guys. Is it just me, or is Dinklage's Tyrion the only one who can really handle Cersei and Jaime?

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And now Peter Dinklage is in trouble with the good guys. Is it just me, or is Dinklage's Tyrion the only one who can really handle Cersei and Jaime?

There's at least one more person who can handle them, in my opinion, but she won't show up until season 2.

I'm excited for the next episode, where the plot really starts to take off. And we might get to see that flaming sword that Jory mentioned.

Edited by Jason Panella

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I'm listening to the audiobook, because I read it about five years ago & have forgotten most of the details. I've finally caught up with the latest episode and am getting just a little bit ahead now.

Seriously, if the Camelot people had taken this approach, it would have been worth watching instead of mocking. And as enthralling as GoT has been so far, I would give a lot to have a really enthralling Arthurian reenactment. Probably not going to happen soon.

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Seriously, if the Camelot people had taken this approach, it would have been worth watching instead of mocking. And as enthralling as GoT has been so far, I would give a lot to have a really enthralling Arthurian reenactment. Probably not going to happen soon.

I haven't seen any Camelot but I have seen bits and pieces of other modern Arthurian series, and I always find them wanting. I'll admit, I'm no Arthurian expert, but it feels like they're all missing that which makes the Arthurian legends as timeless and affecting as they are. I don't know where they rank in the pantheon of Arthurian novels and lore, but I love Howard Pyle's renditions, in part because they're so innocent and yet, sometimes tragically naive in their glorification of chivalry, knightly virtue, etc.

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Seriously, if the Camelot people had taken this approach, it would have been worth watching instead of mocking. And as enthralling as GoT has been so far, I would give a lot to have a really enthralling Arthurian reenactment. Probably not going to happen soon.

(1) HBO needs to do it. (2) ... and make it an adaptation of T.H. White's The Once and Future King.

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"What sort of an imbecile arms an assassin with his own blade?"

So we're halfway through, and I keep liking each episode better than the last.

- The fifth episode, while leaving out Daenerys & the Dothraki, and Jon & the Wall, allows things to focus on Stark and what is motivating the escalating conflicts of the story. This worked well because you finally get to hear the arguments for and against the different sides of a conflict that is already turning lethal. For the first time in the series, you also finally get to listen to different characters sit down and hold a few great conversations (similar to what we'd get once or twice every episode of Boardwalk Empire).

- Gotta love Sean Bean. One of the limitations to his Boromir in Lord of the Rings was the motivation of his character remained fairly simplistic, even when he finally changes his mind. As Ned Stark, Bean gets to play the most morally principled character in the show - he's a moral rock, even as Cersei and the Spider both admit, in a world that King Robert grumbles is completely full of scheming, backstabbing, ass-licking and money-grubbing. Ned's black and white moral outlook is being challenged at every turn. Even his close friend Robert is asking him to help do things he believes is wrong. He obviously doesn't want any part of it, and he's not one of those idealistic politicians who is going to learn to compromise and make political deals to succeed. And yet, his problem is he believes it's right to keep above the political manipulation that he believes to be wrong AND he believes it's right to put a stop to whatever evil is scheming behind Robert's back. Bean shows that Ned is constantly wrestling with this dilemma.This episode, more than the others so far, demonstrates the show's absolutely perfect casting for Stark's character.

- The conversation between Robert and Cersei: brilliant, not only do understand both of them more as characters, but we also see a little of why Robert became king in the the first place, and it's his family and not the Lannister family that holds the throne. As Cersei, who seems highly intelligent and crafty herself, voices her father's position on how to hold the throne, Robert explains to her how important it is to hold the people's support. She, and her family evidently, don't care about the people as long as they can be controlled. Robert knows his actions cannot just completely ignore popular needs and opinion. It almost seems like he's determined to kill a pregnant Daenerys simply out of concluding what her son would mean to the people, and what that would mean to keeping peace, law and order in the Seven Kingdoms it is his job to hold together. This is to say nothing of what the conversation reveals about their marriage and hopes for the future.

- The conversation at the King's council: Ned confronts Robert with the fact that, years ago, he never would have cared about the political implications of an unborn child, much less have designs on murdering it and its mother. Ned's view is simple - murdering a young, pregnant girl simply because she wants the throne is morally wrong. They are not the same kind of men as the tyrannical king that they rebelled against and killed. While Robert is clearly partially motivated by hatred for the family that evidently killed Ned's sister, his position is backed by probably the wisest old man in the room, whose rationalization for a preemptive strike now is based on thought out national security considerations for preventing a worse war in the future.

- Why do I keep expecting the Spider to put his little pinky finger to the corner of his mouth? and why did I have to do a double-take to make sure the knight of the flowers wasn't Orlando Bloom?

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Good thoughts, Jeremy.

Some of the best scenes in the episode weren't at all in the book — Robert and Cersei, Varys and Baelish. Even the swordfight between Ned and Jaime felt like it could've been a deleted scene from the novel. I applaud the showrunners.

And speaking of sword fights, this is the episode where the action kicks in. And boy, is it messy. Martin doesn't make killing the stuff the songs, and HBO sticks by that. One scene in particular was thankfully brief, but I might still have nightmares. I imagine Tyrion might too.

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I've also gotta say that, after this episode, I find King Robert completely likable, beerbelly and all. The show makes you worry for him [a] because he's clearly got self-destructive tendencies, and so many enemies all seem to be imperceptibly closing in on him. During the entire discussion with Cersei, I was worried he was just going to keel over, murdered by her slipping poison in his drink. She starts asking him about his recent decisions, and he complains that everyone always wants something - her father wants this, she wants that, they want this, everyone's struggling for some form of power. "What do you want?" she asks him, and he raises his mug of ale and smiles.

"Stop wasting time and go find the breastplate stretcher!!"

Edited by Persiflage

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Sooooo...... this show just went from good to great in my book. Episodes 6 and 7 (ep 7, which airs this Sunday and is available a week early to HBOGO users and you don't want to miss this one!) have really taken my interest in the show to a new level. The comparisons made to "The Wire" seem even more appropriate now as we are coming around the corner to the end of the season. In the first few episodes, the pieces were moving around but it didn't feel like much was happening, but now stuff is starting to happen and my mind is reeling during each episode as I consider how certain events will affect other characters and their circumstances. And, significant characters are starting to die. I'd heard about this from fans of the books, but now that it's starting to happen, I get even more nervous during scenes in which characters are in danger-- will they get killed off right here? My wife and I are loving this show and are preparing to tear through the books this summer.

Anyone else see episodes 6/7?

(Episode 7 also contains what is, in my mind, the most over-the-top, gratuitous sex scene of the series so far. The character info that is communicated in that scene could have easily occurred without the strange, distracting sex stuff. It pulled me right out of the story and reminded me that, "Oh yeah, I'm watching a TV show right now and, oh yeah, this is HBO." You'll know the scene when you get there.)

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Sooooo...... this show just went from good to great in my book. Episodes 6 and 7 (ep 7, which airs this Sunday and is available a week early to HBOGO users and you don't want to miss this one!) have really taken my interest in the show to a new level. The comparisons made to "The Wire" seem even more appropriate now as we are coming around the corner to the end of the season. In the first few episodes, the pieces were moving around but it didn't feel like much was happening, but now stuff is starting to happen and my mind is reeling during each episode as I consider how certain events will affect other characters and their circumstances. And, significant characters are starting to die. I'd heard about this from fans of the books, but now that it's starting to happen, I get even more nervous during scenes in which characters are in danger-- will they get killed off right here? My wife and I are loving this show and are preparing to tear through the books this summer.

Anyone else see episodes 6/7?

(Episode 7 also contains what is, in my mind, the most over-the-top, gratuitous sex scene of the series so far. The character info that is communicated in that scene could have easily occurred without the strange, distracting sex stuff. It pulled me right out of the story and reminded me that, "Oh yeah, I'm watching a TV show right now and, oh yeah, this is HBO." You'll know the scene when you get there.)

Haven't seen episodes six or seven yet, but I'm glad you're enjoying it. Having read the books, I know what's coming at the end of episode six, and from what I've read acted quite well. Still kind of dreading it, though.

As for your final point, well...this is one thing that's keeping me from loving the show. There's certainly sex in the novels, but at least it's there for a point. Most of the sexual content of the TV show involves original scenes, and it's pretty tasteless. It feels like, "OK, we need some more exposition, so...hey! Let's distract the audience while we're delivering it!" The character of Ros (the prostitute from Winterfell) was created just for the show for this purpose, it seems.

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A rant about the books that someone posted on my Facebook page:

I struggled through the first three books and then quit. I see this series as the "anti-Lord of the Rings." in other words, there was no joy, no moments of beauty, no one to admire, and nothing to cheer for. It's very well written, but skill alone can't make up for the lack of beauty.

Since I have yet to venture into this series, I'm wondering how you all would respond to this.

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Since I have yet to venture into this series, I'm wondering how you all would respond to this.

I struggle with responding to these sorts of comments in a curt, ungenerous way, so I'll have to ponder a bit. But I will say this — the commenter should also avoid The Wire, film noir, Nick Cave albums, Cormac McCarthy novels, and so on.

EDIT: I realize this comment is kind of curt and ungenerous. I have some work ahead of me.

Edited by Jason Panella

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A rant about the books that someone posted on my Facebook page:

I struggled through the first three books and then quit. I see this series as the "anti-Lord of the Rings." in other words, there was no joy, no moments of beauty, no one to admire, and nothing to cheer for. It's very well written, but skill alone can't make up for the lack of beauty.

Well, the commenter is right if you're comparing the series to, say, The Lord of the Rings. There isn't the same sense of wonder and magic to Martin's series (it's there, just off to the periphery, though I suspect it'll come more the forefront towards the series' end). And make no mistake: Martin's books are grim works. But that's not what Martin's going for, and so I think it's a bit of an unfair comparison -- one based more on the fact that both authors are housed in the "Fantasy" section of the bookstore, rather than any real similarities beyond genre conventions.

I strong disagree with the notion that there's no one to admire and nothing to cheer for. I can think of several admirable characters in the series, but the thing is, they're all deeply, deeply flawed. As such, I think it's quite "cheer-worthy" when a character whom you previously loathed, or who seemed like a total villain, suddenly starts to feel the pangs of conscience, and begins to make those first, faltering steps towards heroism, honor, and sacrifice.

For me, that's the most compelling part of Martin's novels. Sure, there's the epic backdrop, the political machinations, the huge battles, etc., but the real focus of Martin's novels is on the humanity, warts and all, of his characters. That's what I find so fascinating, watching these very human and incredibly well-drawn characters (Martin does an amazing job of giving you insight into characters with just a few words and images) fumble about for their own desires, success, and honor -- and reap the reward for doing so, for good or ill.

Edited by opus

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