(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow)
So I’m still recovering from the effects of Phoenix Comicon, and I have advice to all and sundry readers. That advice is this: if you ever find yourself on multiple panels and shaking hands with celebrities, make sure, make absolutely sure, that you take along some hand-sanitizer. Your body will thank you.
But I digress. You’re here for a review of the most recent Game of Thrones, and not for health tips. Fair enough. Don’t blame me if you get horribly ill.
To put it simply, this was an amazing episode. The best of the series so far. It was written by George R R Martin himself, and the producers apparently went out of their way to get some extra money to throw at the screen. All this effort really shows, and I found myself in a rare situation where I honestly cannot think of anything to complain about.
We begin this episode at King’s Landing which, surprisingly, is where we stay the entire time. The whole story takes place there. This means we don’t see or hear anything of what’s happening with Jon Snow, Arya, Robb Stark, Jamie Lannister, or Daenerys. It’s all King’s Landing.
Happily that works well for the show, which concerns Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) attempts to attack the city, kill Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and take the throne. Meantime, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and the assembled masses inside the city try to stop him. It’s a pretty basic concept, but the execution is masterful.
I was in particular impressed with the way the wildfire was used. I don’t recall from the book if it was used in the same fashion, but regardless it was impressive as hell on screen, with green flames that looked quite eerie and effective.
I was also pleased to see Stannis going down and dirty with his men, fighting alongside them even as Joffrey cowered on the walls and eventually fled. Hell, Lancel Lannister (Eugene “Oh, God, He’s Sexy” Simon) displayed more bravery and character than Joffrey.
What else did I like about this story? Well, one needs to make mention of the fascinating scenes between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), as well as the ones between Cersei and Tommen, where she was going to make a choice no mother should ever have to make.
And Sansa, well…she’s clearly getting much better at manipulating Joffrey, and her scenes with Cersei, and most notably the scene with the Hound (Rory McCann) were some of the best we’ve seen with the character. I really like the growth she’s gone through this season and I hope it continues.
As for the final scenes, when Loras (Finn Jones) and Tywin (Charles Dance) show up to save the day? Hell, what’s not to like there? The show did a great job of getting Cersei right close to the edge of having her and Tommen drink hemlock (what I believe is referred to as “The Socratic Method”), and then pulled it back in a way that didn’t feel cheap. I really appreciated that.
I said at the top that I couldn’t find anything to complain about with this episode, and that’s pretty much true, though there was one thing at the start: I had the odd sensation of not knowing who to root for. Stannis would probably be a better king than Joffrey, but he’s in league with unpleasant powers, and would kill off all the Lannisters he can find, certainly including poor little Tommen and Tyrion. But rooting for Joffrey’s forces to win means rooting for that little twat to stay on the throne longer, something that no one (except him), wants.
In the end, thanks to Tyrion, I found something to root for. I rooted for the people of King’s Landing, who would have suffered had their city been sacked. That was good enough for Tyrion, it was good enough for them, and it was good enough for me!