#GameofThrones 1.03 Review!

Obligatory recap: In which Tyrion and Jon bond on the wall, Catelyn and Ned are reunited for a minute, Arya begins to develop some mad skillz, Dany is knocked up, the Khal is snuggly, Viserys is humiliated, Bran is awake, and I am able to remember Petyr Baelish/Littlefinger as a character for the first time in 3 years and 5 books.

Things are finally getting moving this week! Because it’s TV and there’s only so much time for miserable medieval road trudging, King’s Landing and Winterfell appear to be two of those geographical oddities that’s 20 minutes from everywhere, but I’ll take it.

The big standout moments for me in this episode were an inserted (i.e. not in the book) scene between Cersei and Joffrey, where she told him that the truth is what he makes of it and never go against the Corleone family (paraphrasing), the following scene between Ned and Arya, and the scene following that between Tyrion and Jon Snow.

Each is an example of an elder identifying with and guiding a young person. In Cersei’s case, nothing good can come of it, and nothing will. We do learn that in this interpretation, Joffrey’s wound was not severe and he’s a big ol’ baby.

The Ned and Arya moment was great – he breaks down for her why Sansa had to lie (because she’ll be married to Joff the Shit someday), and she gets to respond to his well-meaning reassurances with “I don’t want to be a lady”…and in the end she gets her “dancing lessons” with Syrio the sword master. He was much more… wily and teasing than I’d imagined him. Kind of foxy, where I’d pictured him as lean and scary.

When Jon Snow arrives on the wall, at first he’s this comparatively well-trained, essentially noble- (if not true-)born scion going around whaling on everyone. Then Tyrion a) stops everyone from beating the crap out of him and b) reminds him to have some compassion, to make brothers out of these guys he’s stuck on a giant hunk of ice with. In the book I think you get more of a sense that Jon’s newfound friends are the cream of the raper-and-thief crop, but it’s fine with me if they want everyone to seem worthwhile on the wall.

As I keep pace with the episodes by reading along in my Kindle, it’s starting to be astonishing how differently I perceive the sexist characters in the narrative. I finally can separate the remarks of King Robert and a rabble of skeevey dudes from the – as one of y’all commenters said – humanized rest-of-the-field. I still think my knee-jerk 18-year-old’s reaction was a good one, since it gave me experience arguing with a bunch of mansplainers, but I’m able to revise it and officially say that Not All Of Game of Thrones Is a Pile of Misogyny. Progress!

Also? I think there are still problems with the Danaerys/Drogo saga…but I give props to the TV series for more clearly illustrating her arc from miserable crying child to young woman aware that she has an opportunity to belong to these horse lords and to take power away from her sniveling brother. We haven’t seen her identify with the Dothraki at all, and we miss out on the dragon-based ego-strengthening dreams that are so vividly depicted in the book’s 3rd person narrative, but at least she and Drogo are snuggly. I guess?

It’s so easy to forget in television – whether it’s fantasy epic, high school musical dramedy, family entanglement stories or workplace sitcom – that arcs have to start somewhere to go somewhere. Don Draper had to start shallow and teflon in order to deepen and show the cracks in his facade. Catelyn has to start from grief, Dany has to start from victim, Ned has to start from pillar of strength, Jon had to start from arrogant.

I’m so excited for all the newcomers to see where everyone’s going to wind up.

This week I watched via Skype, with my pal Sal’s laptop pointed at her TV. It was budget, but it’s awesome to watch with someone totally new to the series.

I had to tell her what I’m telling you all – “This is the kind of show where everyone you love? Is going to have horrible things happen to them. Horrible. Things. And people you hate now, you might wind up cheering for later. So. Pace yourself.”

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5 Responses to #GameofThrones 1.03 Review!

  1. Vic says:

    Thank you for this!

    I’ve not read the books yet (got the first one on order at the library so soon I will!) so I’ve been coming at the series from a perspective that could only judge from what the TV producers wanted to show.

    I was infuriated by the first 2 episodes; the depiction of Drogo as this terrifying, blank rapey Other, by the “oh no more rape now I cowgirl wheeee!” and by what I initially interpreted as cowardice by Sansa when asked to verify who was telling the truth towards the end of ep2.

    But honestly? This episode relieved a lot of my concerns. I would still prefer that Drogo’s first scenes be handled with more depth – the decision to have him be a virtually mute, emotionless character, not even depicted talking to his own men at any point, made it harder to see their portrayal as anything other than setting the scene for raped-blondie-tames-the-savage, but what little we saw of him this ep was much better, and the insights into his cultural background as told from Dany’s perspective helped immensely.

    Mainly, they managed to explain Sansa’s behaviour in EP2 in a way that made sense. The world the story is set in is not, by any means, a nice place and in that context scenes showing a miscarriage of justice borne of obligation make sense.

    I also really love Dinklage in this.

    • mkpheartsnyc says:

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Yeah…when I first read the books as an impressionable teenager… I think it was only the fact that I’d read so many romance novels where the Rough Brute becomes the Tender Beloved that made me not question the Drogo-Dany relationship. Frankly I do think it is one thing that betrays Martin’s lack of ovaries. I think there is a way to right a fearsome leader and a victim-turned-dragon-queen that gives her a BRAIN that decides to accept her fate and make the most of it instead of just deciding “Bedroom tricks yay!”

      But I love that the TV series is bearing out a lot of the contradictions in the book – characters we hate and then love and then tolerate and then despair of…

      I still have little sympathy for Sansa generally, but then I think of her as your average little Disney Be-Princessed dreamer but one who actually lives in that world and I feel a little more compassionate. It’s really interesting too to see people juggle their priorities in this world. Is there defining characteristic Honor? Loyalty? Ferocity? Self-Interest? Or are they Littlefinger and impossible to pin down?

      Honestly I don’t think the series could have happened if Dinklage hadn’t signed on. When I first found a fansite drooling over casting rumors, it was the one thing everyone agreed on. We Must Have Dinklage!

      See you next week 🙂

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