Friday, April 18, 2014

Murder Most Fair

Like World War I, Episode two of Game of Thrones second season, "The Lion and the Rose", featured a major character's death which will set into motion a cascade of events that threatens the newly won peace in Westeros. Maggie Cats and I are here to chat about what is rapidly shaping up to be a horrible idea if you live in Westeros: Getting married. 

Seriously. It amazes me how many geeks want Game of Thrones-themed weddings. Are they not paying attention?

 It goes without saying there are MAJOR SPOILERS afoot for those who haven't caught up yet, so proceed at your own risk. Seriously. It's your last chance. Stop now if you don't want anything given away. The big reveal is in the first line. You've been warned.

 Clovis:  Instead of starting with "what did you think?" how about a variation - how much did Joffrey's death  fit for you in terms of how much you wanted him to suffer relative to how much he actually did? Put another way - was the payoff worth it, or could you have stood to have had at least a few minutes more of sputtering on his part?

 Maggie Cats:  Let me work this one out. Fact: Joffrey is a sociopathic spoiled toolbag who needed to have hot pokers shoved into his eyes. Fact: he was also a kid and watching any kid choke to death on his own blood is horrifying. Especially when his parents are RIGHT. THERE. 

Even by Westeros standards, this is harsh.

Clovis:  Very true. This is another reason I like the actor - he plays this terrible person, but you saw how horrifyingly young he was to die that way.

 Maggie Cats:  I find myself quite conflicted about his mode of expiration actually. I don't think that I, as a viewer, needed more time to watch him suffer. I seem to remember in the book (I hate to always go back to the book, but whatcha gonna do), it took him waaaay longer to die. Because dying from lack of air actually takes a really really long time. It was like 5 minutes before he actually full on died. Which is even worse. So from that perspective, the TV audience kind of got off easy.

 Clovis:  I feel like there wouldn't be enough that could be done to him to make audiences feel they had gotten proper revenge, which is actually kind of the point – this story is fundamentally about how unfair life and humans can be. The villain doesn't always get his just desserts.

 Maggie Cats:  For it to feel like revenge for the audience, I don't think the death itself needed to be more protracted, but steps leading to it. Joffrey would need to be stripped of his throne, humiliated, made to understand his douchebaggery. Poisoning seems so....random.

 Clovis:  Death isn't enough for Joffrey. You want him humiliated, de-powered, destroyed. All the things he's done to others you want visited back on him. It makes me think that the scene they included earlier in the episode between Milesandre and Shireen was definitely emblematic of all this. Milesandre even has that great line about the only hell being the one that we've living in right now.

 Maggie Cats:  Exactly. It's not even the dying that's the important part. It's someone finally getting through to him that is a total c***. Which is of course exactly the opposite of what they teach you in all those seminars about being successful--you can't approach conflict with the attitude that you need to "win" the argument. But that's what you WANT. And Joffrey would never be like, "oh, you are so right, I am such an asshole."

 Clovis:  In fairness, those seminars also aren't oriented toward medieval survival.

 Maggie Cats:  Are you sure? You have never spent a holiday with my family.

 Clovis:  <rim shot>

 Maggie Cats:  Nailed it.

 Clovis:  Totally.

 Maggie Cats:  Anyway, it definitely speaks to the quality of the show (and the book) that you feel sympathy for Joffrey as he dies, despite his awfulness.

 Clovis:  Definitely. He's terrified. He's a little boy again because he's only, like, sixteen. All that bravado that we see him with earlier, cutting up Tyrion's book, mocking the War of the Five Kings, it's all just covering up his own issues and his own immaturity.

 Maggie Cats:  He's never really been anything but childish, which definitely helps with the gut punch during his death scene. He's like that kid in the Twilight Zone episode who is omnipotent. But also a brat.

 Clovis:  Speaking of the scene itself, I have never seen a more Game of Thrones: CSI episode than this one.

 Maggie Cats:  Well, don't forget CSI: Winterfell when Lady Stark was combing the tower for clues and discovered gasp golden hairs!

 Clovis:  That's true. It was a clear precursor. Watching this one with a bit of advanced knowledge, I loved how well framed the scene was showcasing all the potential murderers and laying little clues to the possible point where any one of them could have done it.


 Maggie Cats:  I actually thought they did a great job of not making it too much of a "something bad is going to happen soon" scene though, so when he actually died you were like WHAT THE HELL?? I need to go back and rewatch; I confess I had forgotten who actually did the deed in the books. I remember NOW though.

 Clovis:  It's never made absolutely clear, but the implication is that it is the Queen of Thorns. And they certainly set that up here - having her specifically play with Sansa's hair (I swear it looks like she palms something when she's touching her braid) and showcasing where they cup goes every time it leaves someone's hand EXCEPT for right before he picks it up again and it's been right at her table.

 Maggie Cats:  Not everyone remembers all the character's thirty names you know, Clovis. Let's just say: Margaery's Grandma.

 Clovis:  Fair enough, if i can also call her Grandma TopGun, because I think that's who she is really.  The scene was like the old con game of "follow the cup". It's in view at all times except for two or three strategic points - when it falls under the table and Sansa picks it up, when it rests at Grandma's table out of frame...

 Maggie Cats:  DUN! But again, unless you knew to look for that...I don't think a viewer would have noticed.

 Clovis:  No, not at all

 Maggie Cats:  Those clever HBO execs...they want me to rewatch!

 Clovis:  It's definitely there to be looked at once you know what's happened. But in terms of other things in this episode, I have to say that the thing that I appreciate again and again about this show is the dedication it takes to the smaller moments.

 Maggie Cats:  Do you mean all the character conversations?  We haven't had this many characters in one room since Season 1.  Loved them all, especially Cersei/Brienne.

 Clovis:  Yup, exactly. The best one being Cersei accusing her of being in love with Jamie. WHICH SHE TOTALLY IS.

It's like Mean Girls, only with be-headings.

 Maggie Cats:  I'm not sure she even thought about it though until Cersei said it. The actress who plays Brienne is really great; I mean they all are, but I love her extra much. Like how I love chocolate, but if you put peanut butter in there I am like OMG INFATUATED.

 Clovis:  Brienne doesn't even really have a vocabulary for love. She knows that she felt something for Renly, but isn't sure how to articulate it. Now she's feeling it again for Jaime, but this time it's with someone who at least actually knows her name and (maybe) feels something back.

 Maggie Cats:  Aw, poor emotionally stunted Brienne. Whatever, I am a total Brienne/Bear shipper.

 Clovis:  There is that lovely song about the two of them...

 Maggie Cats:  Speaking of songs... Rains of Castamere is officially overplayed. It's like Clear Channel owns all Westeros music stations. Enough!

 Clovis:  Even Joffrey was done with it. He threw the coins at the singers who barely made it through the first verse.

 Maggie Cats:  Nice to see some things are universal.

 Clovis:  Oh, another great small moment - Loras and Prince Oberyn totally eye-fucking each other from across the room.

 Maggie Cats:  HA, yes. That was hawt.


 Clovis:  I keep saying that with all the inter-relations that we've got going on here between the characters, this show is always only a few decapitations away from being Real Housewives of Westeros.

 Maggie Cats:  To be fair, they would need a shit more botox. Cersei would be first line for that injection.

 Clovis:  She'd cut a bitch. Literally.

 Maggie Cats:  bah dum dum.

 Clovis:  But contrary to our conversation so far, other things did actually happen in this episode. I, for one, was pleased to see crazy-ass Selyse, Stannis's nutty wife, return.

 Maggie Cats:  Oh, yeah. And I guess they burned her bro at the stake. As one does.

 Clovis:  And she's angling to do so to her own daughter if said whelp doesn't shape up. I loved the dinner set up - Selyse and Stannis at one end. Milesandre shoved down at the far end of the table.

 Maggie Cats:  Poor Davos. He is a man adrift in a sea of batshit crazy people. Seriously, he is so....steady. And yet: surrounded by crazy.

 Clovis:  I know, right? What's the phrase about never being a prophet in your own land?

 Maggie Cats:  He is a lot of people's favorite character. I think because he is the only halfway normal person. DESPITE all the stuff that he has gone through.

 Clovis:  Davos (and Milesandre) I think are really among the only True Believers in the show, even though they believe in different things.  As such, they both are arguably the closes to the sanest of the all the characters. Even though Milesandre is decidedly about her sanity.

 Maggie Cats:  I guess it depends on what it is people believe in. I think you could say Tywin is a "true" believer. In his ability to fuck you up if you mess with his family. The Lannisters are what he believes in.

 Clovis:  Yeah, I'd say so. For him, it's just about being faithful to the right path of his family, even if the individual members of that family don't live up. You could argue that Ned Stark was the ultimate True Believer and look what it did for him. Even bad ass Arya isn't a "true" believer though - she's far too motivated by her need for revenge.

 Maggie Cats:  I was going to suggest that, but he kind of backed off at the end. Remember when in the end he did lie--because he thought it would save Arya and Sansa.

 Clovis:  that's true. So in terms of going forward, what are you excited about seeing this season? Joffrey's death happen about halfway through book three with plenty of other developments on the horizon. Without giving away too many spoilers, what are you eager to see?

 Maggie Cats:  Honestly, I don't remember too much. Except for Prince Oberyn's reason for being in Kings Landing coming to a head. I try not to reread the books too close to the tv show since I want to be surprised. So I don't have a clear idea going forward of what will happen. It's probably been about 5 years since I read Storm of Swords.

 Clovis:  Have we really only had one Jon Snow scene so far? I'm personally interested in getting back to the Wall to see how they deal with the invasion of the Wildlings now that some of them have made it over.

 Maggie Cats:  But based on the two episodes we have seen, I want to see more progress in Bran's story. The vision flashes were very cool. And I always want to see more of Jon Snow's hair. So I concur.

 Clovis:  Yeah, i really liked them. In the books when he merges with the trees he can see all sorts of things from all sorts of times. I wonder if they'll use this as an avenue for showing us some of the historical backstory.

"My character's sole purpose so far in this show has just been to be a plot device."

 Maggie Cats:  That's a good idea, maybe some stuff about the First Men, etc. But I am over that fucking three-eyed crow. You know what I need? A stuffed three-eyed crow for my living room. It would really tie the place together.

 Clovis:  It would go well with your iron maiden and your cask of amontillado.

 Maggie Cats:  Don't forget the guillotine. So fun at parties!

 Clovis:  How could I? Madame, her kiss is legend.

 Maggie Cats:  *eyeroll. In the nicest way possible, I mean. If you start quoting Proust I am out of here.
 Clovis:  accepted that way, I assure you. And I'll avoid the Proust. I've had too much grad school in my life to subject anyone to that.

 Maggie Cats:  Anything else you are looking forward to seeing?

 Clovis:   As we said last week, I'm really eager to see what they do with Margaery. In the books she kind of fades into the background after Joffrey's death, at least for a little while. I want to see if they develop her out a bit more. I would pay good money to watch her and Cersei fighting over the Iron Throne.

 Maggie Cats:  I think they will, they showed her in the preview for the next episode. And she is kind of established now. I mean, she IS technically queen. Bitch should just take over.

 Clovis:  Exactly. And the people love her and hate her mother-in-law. Margaery can totally rally the people to her side. The question I've got (for both the book and the show) is how much did she know that Joffrey would be killed? She's not naive, and she's got to be relieved that she doesn't have to actually live with the little demon, but clearly it was always her intent to ascend to this position. There's a reason why she married Renly, after all.

 Maggie Cats:  I never had the impression she knew what was going down.

 Clovis:  So is she just mentally nimble enough to take that crown and run with it until Cersei rips it off her head? Cersei is often ineffectual, but she does know how to move quickly. And TV Cersei is portrayed as savvier than Book Cersei.

 Maggie Cats:  I don't know the answers to any of this...which makes me really happy and excited about the season moving forward!

 Clovis:  Agreed. Me too.

That's it for this week. Join us again next week for episode three - "Breaker of Chains".

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