This was, all in all, one of the most awkward 40 odd minutes of television that I ever had to sit through. Alright, it wasn’t all bad, but damn if that wasn’t one of the worst weddings imaginable. Even the Red Wedding was better planned and executed than that mess. I guess it would have been ok if not for Joffrey deciding that he was in danger of becoming even marginally likable and thus ensuring that that could never happen. So, the main plot of the episode was a little hard to get through for but the subplots with Dany didn’t really deliver either and I have some issues with Sam as well. Still, this episode was a necessary evil and now the stage is set for the horrors of the Red Wedding. Are we anticipating it? Are we dreading it? Probably a bit of both, really.
Alright, so let’s talk about Dany and her face-off with the Second Sons. I think they’ve merged the various mercenary companies into a single entity which is smart because they’re essentially interchangeable anyway. I liked the Titan’s Bastard (Mark Killeen) but it’s a shame that we didn’t get to actually see him fight or die but apart from that I think it’s pretty clear that that scene was intended to introduce us mainly to Daario Naharis. Now, I hate Daario Naharis. I hate him in the novels, I hate him when he’s playing an active role and I hate him when he’s not. To be more precise, I hate Dany when she is around him and since we’re more likely to be stuck with Dany for a lot longer than Daario, I end up shifting the blame to him. However, having said that, I’m going to give Ed Skrein a chance here because it’s wholly possible that HBO was able to fix Martin’s fuck up regarding this character and the way he was used. So far, they aren’t inspiring much confidence in me though and I fear that by mid season 4, every second or third word from Dany’s mouth is going to be Daario or Daario related, at which point we can start playing a game called ‘How fucking drunk do you have to be before you forget this character exists? Let’s find out’ – it’s a working title.
Then we have the meat of the matter – this hideous wedding and all the cringe it carries with it. To be perfectly honest, the scenes themselves were done pretty well and there was every intention in both this adaptation and in the original source material for this particular section to be embarrassing. In the novels, we read it from Tyrion’s perspective and he is utterly humiliated and so turns to his only real friend – wine – for comfort. It’s hard to really show that level of embarrassment from a purely audio/visual medium but I think they did a good job of it. You really felt bad for Tyrion as the jokes and Joffrey piled on and the whole affair felt like as much of a trainwreck as it was supposed to, in my opinion. My problem with it isn’t a major one, actually – it’s that a scene that is that awkward, even intentionally, is just difficult to watch and at the end of the day that’s not really what most of us go to television for. It’s a very mild complaint to be honest and I feel conflicted in putting forward that argument because I don’t honestly believe that the television medium exists only to deliver mindless drivel as entertainment but if I’m being honest with myself about the reasons why I didn’t like the episode particularly, then the above paragraph is a big part of it.
Still, the wedding wasn’t just cruel, trite dwarf jokes and rampant alcohol abuse – there were a couple of genuinely entertaining scenes interspersed in between. Margaery calling Cersei ‘sister’ and being punished by a rather forced explanation of the ‘Rains of Castamere’ and the threat of death should she not learn from her folly was one such scene. Another amusing scene was getting a glimpse of what awaits Loras in the event that his marriage with Cersei goes through – a deep and singular misery, indeed. On a more serious note though, I like how the mood in the whole thing can swing from just generally uncomfortable to intense in the blink of eye – or in Tyrion’s case, a single threat spoken to the wrong person. There is also the relatively trifling matter of how Sam the Stupid and Sluggish becomes Sam the Slayer and while I appreciate the investment in CG effects and blue screen stuff, the White Walker’s death was just way too Hollywood and overdone. I’m not a big fan of the Walker’s design as a race in the first place and depicting them as savage zombies that would so literally fall on a dagger (of any kind, really) just removes the threat value that I associate with them. Sorry if I sound a little cantankerous today – it’s a rough episode to sit through and the next episode promises to be no more fun.