“Mr McGee, don’t make me angry…you won’t like me when I’m angry….”
It is time for my annual recap of Game of Thrones. I will preface this article by saying I’ve read the first four books and am wading into book five in George R.R. Martin’s epic of incest, war, slavery, and zombies in mythical Westros. I’m not so sure that was a good idea in retrospect. The good news is he’s deathly slow in writing the books and they are ponderously long. If I time this right I may be done with book five (and about a dozen other books) by next April when season five starts.
Spoilers follow…but seriously, you should be caught up by now. You have no excuse at this point.
I went into the season with high hopes. In some respects, I got what I wanted. We had a royal wedding topped off with Joffrey (Call me the Cuddly King) being the worst party host in history. It was okay, I had read ahead and knew what was coming, but the way the show did it was much better than the book. The show added a disturbing scene where he had a band of dwarves perform a semi-disgusting skit for the guest’s amusement. Guess what, Uncle Tyrion wasn’t amused. Then Joffrey went out of his way to humiliate Tyrion. Watching him gasp his last breath was oddly and sickeningly pleasing. Oh, don’t go there, we all wanted to see him die!
Tyrion got blamed for the act, despite any lack of witnesses who saw him do it. You’d think with a motto – “A Lannister always pays his debts,” you wouldn’t go around accusing one of regicide. My favorite short person ended up in the dungeon for most of the season. The one time he got out for some fresh air, his trial, he unleashed a monologue that was awesome and should earn the actor an Emmy. His demand for a trial by combat was in keeping with the books and a neat way to end the episode. Pure Tyrion fun here. He could have simply gone to The Wall by pleading mercy, but he opted for something more bold and entertaining for all of us.
We got to meet the Prince of Dorne, the Red Viper, who was a creepily sexy version of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. “You raped my sister and killed her and her children…prepare to die.” He was creepy, but he sure hated the Lannisters and the Mountain That Rides.
Last season we were treated to a full season of the torture of Theon Greyjoy. Frankly, he deserved it. In the books it is all covered with a sentence that says that Theon was tortured by Lord Bolton’s bastard son. Watching it on HBO was a lot of more fun, and made you wince at times. Eunuch Greyjoy, now called “Reek” made us all wince when he shaved his master’s beard. Theon is broken in every way now and in this season we saw him twice turn on his family and house. Hey, it wasn’t much of a house anyway, but in Season Three we thought he hit rock bottom. This season, Reek continued to dig.
Daenerys Targaryen took over Meereen, another slave city that looks like all of the other slave cities. Her dragons have grown, and one of them is unmanageable. She learned this season what it was to be a queen. For three episodes she sat on a throne and listened to people whine about their saving of their sorry asses. She did dismiss Ser Jorah Mormont when she found out he had been originally spying on her. This was sad. She ended up locking up two of her dragons – and that was a little sad. She had sex, but it wasn’t with Mormont, so that was a little sad too. The saddest part of the season is that while she learned to be a queen, we all learned that is pretty boring. Go get some ships and invade Westros okay?
Bran, Hodor and the Wonder-Twins went on their quest to find the magic glowing tree in the North. Why, no one knows. I am quite sure this is all important in the storyline of Game of Thrones, but we really don’t care about Bran. Maybe Hodor. When he got tortured by the renegades at Craster’s Keep, we all were angered. Hodor, with all of the depth of his dialogue, is more entertaining on screen than Bran. By the end of the season they found the tree in a lake frozen over a few dozen armed skeletons. Inside the tree, they found children and an old man – which was creepy from a few angles.
After a three year trek, the Wildings finally reached The Wall. I’m not sure what took so long, because two different parties reached it in one episode, climbed the wall, then went on a killing bender for most of the season. The season’s climatic episode nine (in true HBO format) was visually spectacular but otherwise rather boring. The one filmed scene was stunning, with a panoramic view of the battle a full 360 degrees plus. I have never seen such a cool live action scene on TV before. But the end of the battle was, well dull.
Ygritte, Jon Snow’s main squeeze finally died, but only after killing half of the Night’s Watch. Her last words were, “you don’t know nothing Jon Snow.” Wow. That was a surprise. Actually Jon seems to be doing just fine, better than most of his friends.
Brienne of Tarth teamed up with Podrick for another buddy season. Brienne only seems to be fun when she’s paired up with someone. In the books this took a lot longer to happen.
Speaking of buddy films, what about The Hound and Ayra? This twisted form of the Odd Couple spent most of their season trying to reach the Eyrie. Ayra recited her list all along the way, which was unsettling. How could The Hound sleep knowing he was on that list? Then, when they arrived, they found out Ayra’s bat-assed crazy aunt was dead. One of the best scenes of the season was her busting out laughing when she heard the news…a totally unexpected by realistic response.
Creepy-assed Littlefinger proved himself quite the manipulator…but realistically, manipulating Sansa Stark is no big trick. He did woo crazy-assed Lysa Arryn. We did learn, in one line, that Lysa had poisoned former Hand of the King John Arryn at the behest of Littlefinger – which set into motion, well, the series and books. This season Littlefinger showed up and married Lysa. We learned, much to our chagrin, she’s a screamer in bed. On its own that isn’t bad, but remember that this woman has a bag of cats in her head – she’s that crazy. That breastfeeding scene with her ten year old son in Season One was more disturbing than Ned Stark losing his head.
Crazy Auntie Lysa tries to murder Sansa by throwing her out the Moon Door, a plummet of thousands of feet to your death. You could almost hear the fans chanting, “Push – Push!” But she didn’t. (Boo – hiss!) Instead Littlefinger shows up and gives her a shove out the door.
To be blunt, Littlefinger is a dude that is evil incarnate. Sansa, one of the worst judges of character, had a chance to hang his butt out for killing Lysa, but she doesn’t. I don’t know what Martin has planned for Sansa, but it can’t happen soon enough for those of us who watch the show.
Episode ten this year proved to be the best of the season. True to the book, Stannis Baratheon arrived at The Wall to wipe out the Wilding army. Mr. Happy Go-Lucky managed to suck any joy of the victory out of the Men of the Nights Watch and the viewers. Stannis is proving that being a king means you don’t have a lot of buddies. I will admit, his showing up made us like Stannis, if only for four minutes of one episode.
Jamie’s storyline was okay. He got a gold hand. He bonded with his brother, when the rest of the family was striving to string him up. Sure, he raped his sister in the church…but that only seemed to add balance to his character.
The story arc for Tyrion, my favorite imp, was capped off when he repaid his debt to his father Tywin (Father of the Year) and the lying harlot he slept with. Tywin getting shot on the privy was true to the book and oddly satisfying.
Now, I will say, the producers skipped the big ending of Book Three of the series. I don’t know if they are going to simply omit it from the series or spring it on us later. I’m actually good either way.
Which cuts to the chase – should you read the books and watch the show, or just watch the show? I’m on Book Five now, and it will tide me over. It does spoil some of the big events to read ahead. But the producers are frigging genus’s, they have tweaked the storyline just enough that no matter what, the show is different and, in many cases, cooler.
The TV show tops the books because of the sheer visual special. The sets, costumes, and scenery makes the series pop in a way the books cannot.
But now we all enter that depressing valley of being forced to wait for the next season. I will plod through Book Five just so I keep fresh with the characters. April 2015 seems a long ways off though…