Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Walk of Punishment

I hate to check the news and find out another violent tragedy has occurred. I feel sorry for everyone who got hurt or lost loved ones. At the same time, I'm seeing on the recordings shown on TV a lot of people running to help. That is a good thing. To quote Patton Oswalt, "The good outnumber you, and we always will". Words of consolation and words to think about. Then, of course, the religious extremists come out on Facebook and blame it on the "godless people". I am pretty sure that if this was a terrorist attack of any sort the people behind it will certainly not claim to be godless. Ahem. No, this isn't a blog on politics or the-long-overstayed-its-welcome inanity known as religion, so I'll shut up.

Somebody in the background should be doing the L-sign.
What with House Slynt recently having acquired a new, very small member I've been putting aside my fascination for anything fantasy to the point that I actually forgot that Game of Thrones' episode three of season three was out. Now that's quite earth-shattering. I did get to watch it last night, though. Before I did, I quickly swept by Winter is Coming and saw the following comment: Now THIS is a Game of Thrones episode, a comment that got me hyped. I found episode 2 somewhat lacking so I expected the new episode to be, if not mind-blowing, at least really good. But I found myself not finding that enthusiasm they had over at Winter.

To sum up the episode, I'd call it...jarring. There were a number of things that were, for one reason or the other, jarring. Right from the get-go, really. Who's this guy firing those arrows? Hey, it's Brutus! That was jarring, probably because I didn't know that Tobias Menzies had landed the role of Edmure Tully. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that he was portraying Edmure because he doesn't look like Edmure at all (as described in the books). It got even more jarring when he was standing next to the Blackfish, played by Clive Russell, who was so spot-on that it hurt. They could at least have spent a few dollars giving Tobias reddish/auburn hair and/or a beard, you know? Now Tobias himself does a great job with the little time he has, he's a class actor, but, yeah. Jarring.

On the other end of the episode, the music in the end credits wasn't so much jarring as it was jarring, rankling and dissonant. Still, I appreciate the effort of trying to go for a different vibe after Jaime losing his precious hand. But still. Jarring.

Inbetween these two scenes there was some good and some ... less good, much like the previous two episodes, but for some reason I found this one to be less interesting than the first two, possibly because I was riled up and waiting for Jaime to get his comeuppance - so I suspect it will feel better on a second viewing. 

That being said, I was very happy to see some of my complaints about the previous episode taken care of; we had Jaime pointing out how weak he was when fighting Brienne; the Locke character is played wonderfully by Noah Taylor to the point that I was able to shrug off the lack of Brave Companions; we get to see the Fist of the First Men...

...but there was more jarring going on - the Podrick Payne scene was one long jar. It just didn't work very well because it didn't come across well enough for people to realize what was going on, and it felt like an unnecessary scene by all accounts (I'll be noting that maybe there's a follow-up to this later in the season since it's in there in the first place); this long scene introducing whores by the score could have been swapped out for some better and needed exposition. Because I fear that the numbers may begin to drop anytime now for HBO; there are many characters, many plotlines and perhaps in some cases just too little information though I obviously value less exposition over more. There is a certain vagueness slipping into the show with regards to character motivations. What is going on with the Hound? Where is Thoros taking Arya? Why does Tywin send Littlefinger to the Eyrie? Not difficult to answer if you're a book reader, but I'm almost afraid the general public will become too confused - who is helping Theon and why (brilliant scenes, by the way - favorites this episode)? All these questions came up while watching with non-readers (and more). Edmure and Brynden are thrown into the show with barely a hint of who they are and I am pretty sure the writers regret not having introduced Hoster and Riverrun in season two.The episodes feel rushed, as if we have haste. Good thing about it is of course that it may bring us The Winds of Winter a couple of years early. So even when cutting out vast sections of source material for the show, it becomes a bit confusing for non-readers. That's of course when you slap them in the head with a solid copy of A Game of Thrones and yell "Get reading! This is much better!"  
What could it mean? Nazi-zombies? Spiralling madness?
 Seriously, they should spend two seasons on each book in my opinion. 

All right, so as to not sound entirely pessimistic - here's what I really liked about Episode Three:

I did like the cinematography, Riverrun especially was splendid. The small council scene with Tywin was
Who wouldn't want to be this one's bodyguard except Loras?
rather good at showing us just what kind of respect Tywin demands though the scene didn't come through well enough with regards to Petyr (probably the character from the books that has been molested the most); Daenerys was as radiant as Kraznys was despicable (their scenes together are fantastic); Richard Madden had a great scene as Robb Stark (probably his best so far); the Blackfish was perfectly cast and perfectly portrayed by the actor; Jaime and Brienne back-to-back on the horse, tied up, and Jaime getting dialogue from the book was great and - I have to reiterate - once again we see and hear just how well suited the book's dialogue already is; I'm growing fond of the portrayal of Thoros of Myr; the scene with Hot Pie and the wolf bread was endearing; Catelyn Stark once again perfectly played; Mance Rayder is growing on me in this particular incarnation; Craster is awesome (though I am worried they will change the upcoming scenes in the show - I don't "feel" as if the Night's Watch guys are set up properly to do what they do to Jeor in the books); the Walk of Punishment was appropriately biblical in its depiction of suffering and the Jorah/Barristan-combo can only become better; and, as mentioned, for me Alfie Allen was the star of the show. And in one episode, they had all the viewers reconsider their opinions about the womanizing, cruel and traitorous young man of the Iron Islands. And Nicolaj as Jaime as a good second. Actually he was amazing (again).

Only a few scenes left me cold - Talisa and the Lannister boy felt tacked on and unnecessary (as of now), as did Melisandre and Stannis' scene (though I liked well enough that they got across the point of Stannis' fires burning low); and the scene between Littlefinger, Tyrion and Ros the Boss. 

Overall, I'd rate this episode to be just below the previous one; the strongest scenes in Episode Two were stronger than the strongest scenes in Episode Three, and the weakest scenes of Episode Three were slightly weaker than the weakest scenes in Episode Two.

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