Monday, May 2, 2011

Game of Thrones: “Lord Snow”

I’ve been told the first episode of Game of Thrones is the weakest of the bunch. While it wasn’t terrible by my standards, it certainly was slowly paced. Episode 3 is the exact opposite. I’m reminded of the House of Pain song “Jump Around”, this episode leaps from one scene to the next without being chaotic.

“Lord Snow” is the quintessential establishing episode that all television series’ have; we learn substantially more about each main character.

I had noted previously how I was dismayed at the lack of rep. of the Stark Dire Wolves. Episode 3 was filled with so many great scenes, so it’s actually easy to forget these shortcomings…although they’re noticeable nonetheless.

Jon Snow’s journey is what entices my interest in the actual books, and this episode features Jon Snow and his indifference to the rest of the Night’s Watch recruits. He endears himself to his future brethren quite quickly so we aren’t treated to much inner turmoil between Snow and the unskilled trainees. There is a great scene with them threatening to cut his throat for embarrassing them during a sword-fighting exhibition. Tyrion Lannister steps in to cut things short (pun somewhat intended).

Tyrion is such an odd man. You never can tell what side he is on…probably just his own. His time spent at the Night’s Watch doesn’t convince him of the danger on the other side of the Wall, but he instills some surprising words of wisdom to Jon Snow. Making viewers question whether or not Tyrion is the uncaring individual we’ve been led to believe.

Although things transpire at a faced paced and plot details are thrown around like confetti—we still get some great scenes with Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and a spirited albeit very drunk rant from King Robert.

Arya Stark is like the inner child of Ned Stark made flesh and blood before her father’s very eyes; she wants no part of being a lady, not just to spite her father or sister, she actually likes swordsmanship. She gets her wish, receiving training from renowned swordsman Syrio Forel. The actor playing Forel delivers a slightly hammy performance, but it’s passable. 

The actor who plays Jon Snow has the same neutral look on his face all the time. That's nitpicking but its something to note.

Arya is very different from her sister Sansa. She’s hot tempered, and quick t hold grudges against those who wrong her. Arya has an inner-strength that becomes more evident as the series continues and this episode establishes some of the things that motivate her for a long time to come. 

The short exchange we get between Ned Stark and Jaime Lannister is scintillating. The show portrays a King Slayer—Jaime Lannisters nickname—as slightly doubtful of his actions when confronted by Ned. It’s in contrast to the steel coated Jamie Lannister we see portrayed throughout most of the book. We do see more of that personality dissolve in later editions but the TV series gives Jaime more humility than was ever depicted in the first novel. At least when contemplating killing the former King Aerys Targaryen…not so much for trying to murder Bran Stark.

The main plot actually slinks behind the scenes in this episode. We do get the introduction of Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger, Catelyn Starks childhood friend and all around slimy individual. We’ll get more from Littlefinger, and the eunuch Varys and how they’ve been running the kingdom while King Robert eats and drinks himself into an early grave.

Ned Stark begins to confide his fears to his wife and daughter. He knows that they’ve come to a dangerous place were people will slit their throats for a bit of coin. Caught in this web of conflict Ned Stark just questions further is role and why his friend, the king, neglects his rule.

“Lord Snow” really shows that this series has meat on its bones. There’s depth that even I didn’t realize, and that comes from stellar writing and acting. Game of Thrones just keeps getting better.

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