So I finally got through the first season of Game of Thrones, and it seemed finally towards the end, there was actual plot instead of dumb drama. Do we get more plot, or do we get more thumb twiddling?
Episode 11: "The North Remembers"
This episode begins with Our Villain, Joffrey having his birthday celebration. He's gotten even worse over the past few weeks, now having the Mountain fight and kill men for entertainment. Sansa, at least, is starting to learn how to not only say the right things, but use what little influence she has to mitigate Joffrey's cruelty. So she's going to be Daenerys 2.0 in terms of suffering. Tyrion arrives in the capital with the news that he's the King's Hand in his dad's place. His sister, Incest Queen, doesn't like Tyrion meddling in her affairs. She's also peeved because Arya Stark has slipped their grasp, and Don't Trust Me, Bro hasn't been able to find her. Later, when Don't Trust Me, Bro, threatens her, she turns the tables, only for Joffrey to later berate her and remind her he could have her killed. The Queen is losing control already? Yes, she raised a monster. This is why incest is bad.
At the same time Daenerys has her followers march in the middle of nowhere, since the Dothraki are one side of her, some other people we don't know about are on the other side of her, and all she has is baby dragons that only make her more of a target. The horse given to her, her last tie to the horse-riding people, dies, and worse yet, Daenerys' dragons apparently eat meat, but not the kinds she gave it. So it's Suffersville for her...again.
Plus. elsewhere, Bran is presiding over Winterfell and having visions...which still are coming to nothing. His brother, HeartRobb, is still leading the army and being declared King of the North. He sends his mama to some guy with ships so they can increase their alliance and take over the throne. He also psychologically tortures Incest Charming -- who is looking a lot less charming and more pitiful -- a little with that direwolf of his.
Basically, there's not much of anything going on, but unlike the first season, it's presented in a way that I can follow. If anything, Season 1 seems more like a prequel than an introduction to these characters, while this....makes a surprising bit of sense.
However, there are two very interesting developments to this story.
The first involves Jon Snow and the wall, as he's on an expedition beyond the wall. This is some much needed fleshing out of this land. As mentioned previously, people do live north of the wall in Walker territory, and the Survey Corps stop at a little village with a man who's surrounded by women, some of them his daughters, others his wives. Jon Snow antagonizes the man, who lets them sleep under his tent, and his commander has to rein Snow in, telling him that if he wants to be a leader, he has to learn to follow. While we don't get any undead action, learning more about how the people of this land live brings context to all this drama.
The second is more imporant and much more engaging. Apparently, Ned Stark's final act as the the previous King's hand had an impact as we finally get to see the brother who should be on the throne, Stannis. At first they're on the shore, setting statues on fire. Stannis is in league with this red-headed lady wearing red. I don't know what her name is, so I'm calling her Madame Red. She's another sorceress-like figure, and apparently leading the people astray from their ancestors or religiion. Anyway, some guy protests and he poisions his own drink to kill himself, but Madame Red drinks it and is unharmed. Hey, maybe she's involved with this whole "Red Wedding" and the "Shame" memes that I keep hearing about but still don't get.
Anyway, the critical development is that Ned did get word to him about what happened and Joffrey's parentage, so the truth didn't die with Ned. Stannis has the sense to make sure to spread the word so everyone officially knows, but he refuses to join forces with HeartRobb and wants to make all the families bow to him. He might just be able to do it, too, if he doesn't get stupid about it.
I must say this episode was lot more clear than the other episodes I've seen, and almost was great. There weren't 10,000 storylines but three or four main ones.
But then it ends, as many Game of Thrones episodes do, with violence porn to bring down any of its good qualities. Apparently someone (implied to be Joffrey, but who knows?) ordered all of the former king's illegitimate children killed. They slaughter former king Robert's illegitimate baby with a sex worker, and kill other bastard children in a purge. However, the boy from the previous episode, the boy from the forge, escapes the purge as he is in the caravan to the wall up north...with Arya Stark.
- I find it interesting that Joffrey sounds as if he doesn't realize his parentage. If so, that makes his actions even worse. If he's acting this badly when he thinks the old king was his biological father, how much worse will he act when he becomes aware of the truth?
- How long will it be before Madame Red and Incest Queen get into a catfight? My money is on Incest Queen.
- Sadly, I didn't realize until last week that the actress who played Sansa is the one who played Jean Grey in the newest X-Men movies. Maybe because she acts in this show, but was so poorly directed in X-Men: Apocalypse like all of the other actors in that movie that I didn't know she could act.
- I guess the Mountain got a reprieve with the new king taking the throne. He's still boring.
- Where is the Flower Knight and his man? The two of them seem like they would have a bigger role given that one of them is still in contention for the throne, but I guess they're backburned.