Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Game of Thrones Season 2, Ep 6: The Old Gods and the New

Warning: As Always, Discussion Contains Spoilers!

At this point in the series, Game of Thrones has dispatched waaaaay too many of its coolest characters for my tastes. I still consider myself a fan of the show (I think it’s one of the best shows on  tv currently airing), but it’s also hard to part with loss after loss each week. In the first season we lost Jorry, an underrated bad-ass, in the fifth episode. Losing Ned Stark hurt the most, as Sean Bean really brought a center of gravity to this show that the second season sorely misses. Season two has seen the end of Yoren, a personal favorite character of mine, as well as Renly. This week we say goodbye to Cassel, whose advanced age and inflated physique belied his ability on the battlefield. A hardened man-at-arms, Cassel could always be trusted to bring it in a fight or crack wise when needed. After Theon Greyjoy rather easily took Winterfell, poor Cassel fell victim to the impetuous, creepy-as-hell Greyjoy. He will be missed.

Arya’s scenes tonight include yet another assassination, as she employs Jaqen to dispatch a Lannister stooge before he can expose Arya’s treachery. Her scenes with Tywin Lannister (the excellent Charles Dance) remain a high point for the show. Back in King’s Landing, the Lannister’s send off young Myrcella to Dorne in order to fortify an alliance. On the march back to the keep, the townspeople revolt and riot against the royal family, resulting in several gruesome deaths and the young king Joffrey being hit in the face with manure (and then getting satisfying slapped by his uncle). Sansa Stark is nearly raped and killed, but is saved by Sandor Clegane, who is clearly a more honorable man than has thus far been portrayed (he killed the butcher’s boy in season one, but otherwise has seemed downright pleasant compared to some of the other Lannister bannermen).

Robb Stark has been a vastly underutilized character in season two, largely because his scenes revolve around battle and war, which is obviously more expensive to choreograph and film than political intrigue. Tonight Robb reunites with his mother, learns of Renly’s death, and eventually learns he’s been betrayed by Theon. An incredulous Robb is convinced to hold his ground against the Lannister’s, lest he face losing all he’s won already. He sends a well-armed group of a few hundred to retake Winterfell, but I imagine the plot will dictate this a futile effort.  Up beyond the wall, Jon Snow fails to kill a female wildling, taking her captive instead. This plot has moved slowly, but the dynamic between prisoner and jailer could be potentially interesting. However, if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’m hoping it’ll be quickly abandoned.

In what has continued to be the show’s weakest plot, Daenerys attempts to woo the various rich lords of the city of Qarth. She fails miserably, losing face at various intervals (she’s also propositioned for sex in exchange for just one ship…). Dany is a great character, but she has been given so little to do in so little time that she really feels shortchanged right now. I imagine if you cut out all of her scenes and aired them back to back they might fill up only a half hour to forty-five minutes worth of screen time from six (6!) episodes. By the end of the episode, Daenerys has lost her one great bargaining chip — the baby dragons. I can’t imagine the show will wrap this plot up within the confines of one episode. I guess we’re in it for the long run.

-Z-

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