Review of Game of Thrones ‘The Old Gods and the New’
The slow burn nature of ‘Game of Thrones’ means that at some point there will be a payoff for investing time watching the less exciting episodes. The pace may be slow but when the rewards come they are big and this week was a fantastic episode that was well worth the wait.
With so many heart-pounding and tense moments in each of the strands it is difficult to know where to begin. ‘The Old Gods and the New’ commenced with a literal bang as a door was slammed open and Winterfell was taken by Theon (Alfie Allen). The fall of the castle to the Greyjoys was an intriguing storyline to follow and it revealed a lot about Theon’s character. The interaction between Bran and Theon made the latter’s superciliousness seem all the more ridiculous because Bran, who is just a child, came across as the smarter one. Even when speaking to a young boy Theon cannot command the respect and authority he craves.
There was also a scene of pure, graphic brutality when Theon obliterated Ser Rodrik Cassel (Ron Donachie). Although there was not a lot of onscreen violence, the implication was enough for any viewer to want to vomit into the nearest bin. The viciousness with which Theon dispatched of Ser Rodrik, a man who has been so good to him, shows that he is starting to lose his humanity. Bit by bit he will start to lose any sense of self, he is already suffering an identity crisis and this can only get worse. Perhaps Theon will end up going mad and turning into a babbling wreck from having to prove his loyalty the Iron way. After this episode he has earned himself a place on the ‘Characters who the audience want to see dead’ list which also includes Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
Meanwhile there was an equally shocking scene in King’s Landing where Sansa (Sophie Turner) was nearly raped during a riot against the royal family. When the audience first met Sansa she was an irritable character because of her desire to please the Lannisters, now though there is a lot of sympathy for her because she is a hostage. Turner plays Sansa well enough however she should be commended for her performance in the attempted rape scene because of the dark nature and the physicality of it.
The riot offered an insight into the social situation in King’s Landing and the dissatisfaction amongst the people towards Joffrey and the royal family. Up until now there has been very little of anything outside the court but the plight of the ordinary citizens of the capital was shown. Along with the fight over the Iron Throne, does Joffrey face the threat of being ousted from the growing dissent among his own people?
Even Arya’s (Maisie Williams) plotline provided several tense sequences. Firstly when Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen) visited Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and Arya had to serve him wine. There was every possibility that he would recognise her as a daughter of the Starks, whether he did was uncertain. Baelish is a slippery character, who is looking to survive and serve himself therefore, he may well have recognised her and not said anything, who knows? The other edge-of-the-seat incident was at the end when Arya was discovered with a letter that she shouldn’t have had. Luckily, she was saved in a dramatic last-minute kill.
Although not much happened in Jon’s (Kit Harington) subplot it was welcome change of scenery. The aesthetics of the show is another reason to watch it and for the first time in ‘Game of Thrones’ there were some lengthy scenes in the snow-capped region beyond the Wall. It was great to finally see the endless icy expanse of the North in all its frosty beauty. For viewers, each episode is an involving cinematic experience and this is what sets it apart from other programmes on television at the moment.
Finally, at the end of the episode when there was some hope that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) would finally get a ship to sail across the Narrow Sea, her Dothraki horde was slaughtered and her dragons were kidnapped. It was a nail-biting cliff hanger that will draw back viewers next week. Once again, this episode has surpassed the one before it.
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