Sunday Review: Game of Thrones Edition

I am sick. I am sick with that all over body ache and low fever that is not quite bad enough to send

me back to bed, but is bad enough to suck all the joy from life.

Which is to say, I’m in a fine frame to talk about the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. I’ve seen the first four episodes and they are pretty good. I may have a preview coming out from Vice later today looking at the big picture, but here are non-spoilery additional thoughts about seven major plotlines in the new season.

1. Major plot: Cersei vs Margaery. Kings’ Landing focuses on the conflict between these two women. It’s less misogynistic than I feared (so far), as these things go, in that it’s clearly cast as a power battle not, say, jealousy over Tommen. Tommen is a tool and a pawn (poor kid) as both Cersei and Margaery lose allies one by one.

2. Buddy movie: Bronn and Jamie on the Road to Dorne. Not as much singing and dancing as one might expect from a “Road to …” movie, but it brings in a kind of witty banter that I’ve come to expect from Bronn. Without Tyrion as a foil, Jamie works well. Also this is not in the books, so we don’t really know where the plot will go, which is always interesting.

3. Speaking of Tyrion – We follow him on his way down the coast of Essos and the Free Cities, learn his destination, and re-encounter an old friend. First four episodes are really not so great for Tyrion, despite a few good drunken quips, and that’s not unexpected given the books. I found “Tyrion goes east” to be interminable in the books, so I hope they cut most of it. We may well see the Stone Men though, as we get a few explicit references to them in various scenes.

4. One place we hear about the Stone Men is in regards to Shireen, daughter of Stannis Baretheon. Stannis reveals a few soft moments which I like, as it makes the character more interesting. Meanwhile, I’m happy to tell you, Jon Snow still knows nothing.

5. Sansa Stark, on the other hand, knows a lot. I’m enjoying the slow emergence of Sansa, although I also know there’s going to be significant ick up ahead for her. We see the shape of that ick emerging clearly by episode 4. I think it’s ok to say that Brienne is going to be involved in Sansa’s story in ways that do not track with the books. I’m very curious to see how that goes.

6. Arya, in the meantime, is in Braavos, learning to become A Faceless Man (Girl? Woman? I sort of have the sense Martin just uses “Man” as a neutral, because of course he does). I loved this plotline in the book and hope it gets a lot of screen time. A lot of it takes place internally within Arya’s mind, though, rather than action, so I’m afraid it may be just bits and pieces here and there.

7. Finally, there’s Daenerys in Meereen. My problem with the “education of Daenerys” plot is that Martin is not the ideal writer of the interior journey of a young woman. And then there’s the orientalism built into the plot, as the white woman tells the brown people that they are decadent, that slavery is bad, and that justice is good. Also, and I think this is really important, I don’t care if you are unsullied, spears are really bad weapons for urban combat in close quarters and I feel like elite badass warriors ought to know that.

Some things I wrote this week:

More published pieces next week.

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