More Of The Game?
Game Of Thrones came back for its eight and final season on Sunday and here’s Tripwire’s senior editor Andrew Colman reviewing the second episode. Warning: a few major spoilers ahead…
A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms
Director: David Nutter
Stars: Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
Episode 2 of the series is more of the same – Benioff and Weiss have deemed that there is little left now save the grand denouement, with characters spending most of their pre-annihilation time reminiscing about past misdemeanours. The surviving players seem on autopilot here, going through the motions, repeating old lines, reheating old tropes and reliving glories of better episodes from previous seasons. We’ve had foreboding, anxiety-ridden, pre-conflagration episodes before, such as when Stannis Baratheon invaded Kings Landing, or when the wildlings attacked the Wall. It’s hard to escape the déjà vu, here.
But this is Game of Thrones, and we have to observe protocol. Big battles aren’t all that common in the show, and regardless of how the series has veered away from George R.R. Martin’s edict that anyone, however important, can die at any time, some of the cast are finally going to leave us in the next instalment. One imagines that two relatively low-key, platform episodes in a row would have to presage something even more excessive than the Battle of the Bastards, and there is little doubt that that will be the case.
But in amongst the greatest hits there are fleeting moments of magic – when Tyrion and Jaime, (reunited after Brienne vouches for him to Sansa), gather round the hearth with Tormund and Davos, the enshrouded characters are allowed to breath momentarily, reverting to type and ignoring their mutual fate. There are moments too which seem forced or far too brief, such as when the Hound verbally spars with Anya, or when Brienne is knighted by Jaime, but they’re worthwhile vignettes that distract as the storm gathers. It’s a curiously muted 58 minutes, remarkably devoid of any violence and also Cersei-free (two firsts for Game of Thrones?) but not without one or two key developments.
Jaime’s meeting with Bran, and the latter’s decision to be bait for the White Walkers are poignant and intriguing, while Jon Snow’s revealing of his lineage to his queen is done with subtle panache, Daenerys’s reaction the most telling moment of the episode and a clever piece of foreshadowing. Apart from that, Anya decides to do as she had planned with Gendry (impressive that they had any privacy!) in what is an uncharacteristic turn for the former tomboy, but it works well enough.
Despite her absence, Cersei’s shadow hangs heavily over the ensemble, her immeasurable perfidy already assuring she has won the ensuing battle, whoever the victors are. There will be an aftermath to this aftermath, as (one would assume) another battle royale will occur between whoever survives the walkers’ onslaught and Cersei / Euron’s forces. The chess pieces are all in place, and it will be bloody. Will the red queen outwit the armies of the North (if they win)? I’ve always preferred the at times excellent script, nuanced characterization and unexpected skirmishes of earlier shows, but the fireworks should certainly entertain as the night closes in. The ride begins next week.
Game Of Thrones is on every Sunday on HBO in the US and on Mondays on Sky Atlantic in the UK.