End of Season Notes:
I thought it would be a good idea to sort of summarize my feelings on this whole season before moving on to season 2 next week. I guess one of the strongest impressions I had of this season was that everything seemed exactly like it was in the books, and while to a large degree that’s a great thing, there are just some things I feel work a lot better in book where the thought process of each character is better explained. I wish I could come up some example from earlier episodes, but there are some scenes which do not really serve a purpose beyond just being there because they’re there in the books. I don’t have any examples that wouldn’t sound extremely nit-picky so I won’t bring them up now, but I will keep this point in mind for future episodes, in case something strikes me.
This season saw several really strong performers and while Peter Dinklage’s turn as Tyrion did and continues to receive accolade after accolade, I think there are several others who deserve as much praise based on the episodes of this season alone. Sean Bean (Ned Stark) worked brilliantly with Mark Addy (King Robert) and both captured their respective character’s tragedy excellently. Lena Headey was a great screen presence as well and her scenes with both Addy and Jack Gleeson (Joffrey) still stand out in my mind as great additions to the show. On the other side of the sea, I thought Harry Lloyd’s performance as Viserys really brought the character to life for me. If he had a little more screen time, I would quite willingly put his performance over Dinklage’s for the season. Lastly, there’s Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), who didn’t really appear much, but obviously will feature a great deal more over the next three seasons, but nevertheless made a great start with some intense scenes with both Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) and Dinklage. We’ll see more of him in the near future and so we’ll talk more about him then. Conleth Hill seems almost criminally underrated but his take on Varys is sublime as well – he works well with the equally smooth Aidan Gillen to create an interestingly antagonistic relationship between Varys and Littlefinger that I don’t recall from the books, but certainly love seeing. Jerome Flynn deserves a lot of credit for making Bronn every bit the lovable rogue that he was in the books, as well. Last but certainly not least, is Maisie Williams (Arya) who is exactly what everyone has in mind when they picture Arya. She might not even have known it at the time, but the expectations of her were huge given how Arya is certainly a fan favourite.
The next category I guess is the hit-or-miss types. Alfie Allen as Theon would be a big one for me. Having seen season 3 and 4 already, I know that his performance really picks up, but as of this season it’s a little wooden, like he hasn’t fully gotten the role yet. Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo got a lot of praise for a few of his scenes, but on the whole I found his character disappointingly bland. Michelle Fairley is a TV veteran (I loved her on Suits) but here, I would say that she started out rather awkward, but by the season’s end, I had no difficulty believing that she was Catelyn Stark. Sophie Turner, too, had some really weak moments in this season, but nothing that really stood out as disastrous. I do sympathize with her though – playing Sansa Stark seems like it could definitely be a lot trickier than it looks. I would put Sibel Kekilli in this category too just because her version of Shae seems to stand out too much amongst the rest of the cast and not just because of her accent. I do remembering thinking that her chemistry with Dinklage improves but right now it’s not where it needs to be.
I want to end this little note by really appreciating the work that goes into adapting a work of fiction as dense as A Song of Ice and Fire for television. I think the scenes that the writers added in, add a tremendous amount of context and natural background for the characters and the world and I would be lying if I said that in some cases I felt that they were stronger than the source material in terms of dramatic quality. Some of my favourites were the scene that Robert and Cersei shared over some wine, the scene between Cersei and Catelyn and some of Viserys’ lines to really expand on the character. Can’t wait to get started on Season 2!