Review of Game of Thrones ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’
This series blog is following the UK broadcast schedule on Sky Atlantic
The song of ice and fire has now begun in earnest with each of the story strands finally re-visited. As someone who has read the books and watches the series I have reached the conclusion that both must be judged in their own right. As long as the television series hits the crucial beats of the story then it is still serving George R.R. Martin’s original vision.
For die-hard fans of the novels, it is worth bearing in mind that it is an adaptation and some things just don’t work as well on screen as they do in the books. As readers we are privy to the inner thoughts of these characters whereas on the programme it is through nuanced performances and careful dialogue that we discover these characters.
But leaving books to one side, this week saw the characters inching forward in their various plot threads. Each time we see them I wonder how far they have actually moved, probably only a few metres from where we left them last. Despite the sluggish pace each episode is crammed with so much character development that it makes up for the speed or lack of it. For instance viewers saw a burgeoning friendship of sorts developing between Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Their dialogue was quite humorous, with Jaime taking every chance he could to push Brienne’s buttons and he knew how to do this well, particularly when he insinuated that Brienne ‘fancied’ Renly (Gethin Anthony) and that her beloved king was gay. It was brilliant how their conversation played out and was delightful to watch.
Then there was Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and her confession to Talisa (Oona Chaplin) about how she really felt about Jon Snow (Kit Harington). It was a wonderful moment of vulnerability and conveyed her guilt and remorse. After this scene Catelyn feels more multi-dimensional than ever before. There was pity for her but also shock because it was all so unexpected.
Relatively close by but without knowing it, Arya (Maisie Williams), Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) escaped Harrenhal only to be recaptured after her cover was blown by Sandor Clegane a.k.a the Hound (Rory McCann). It is frustrating that Arya’s storyline seems to be so restricted because she is constantly ending up as someone’s prisoner. Whatever happened to everything Syrio Forell taught her in season 1? Her sword skills really let her down this week.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is becoming even more unbearable as his mother’s shackles start to fall away. The scene between Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Joffrey with the crossbow was quite uncomfortable to watch – and not just because of the phallic implications. Just the thought of Joffrey and sex just make me shudder and I’m sure most viewers would rather get frisky with a direwolf before trying anything with him. What makes Joffrey so frightening to watch is his unpredictability, the viewer is never sure what he is going to do next which is unsettling. Luckily though, the scene between them was not as disturbing as the one with the prostitutes last year.
It was interesting watching Margaery interact with Joffrey play the game, she knows she is a commodity and plays her role accordingly. She is more world weary than Sansa (Sophie Turner), especially after her marriage to Renly, who she knew was involved with her brother Loras (Finn Jones). In some ways I find her more likeable than Sansa because she is canny and can lie well. I am looking forward to seeing more of her this year.
There were many new faces introduced in this episode, including Lady Olenna the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg), a straight-talking and blunt woman who bosses everyone around. Rigg was great and played it effortlessly. The viewer also met Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) and the Brotherhood without Banners, who seem quite jovial until they realise who Arya really is. Beyond the Wall in the wilding camp we met Orell (Mackenzie Crook), who is a warg and can see through the eyes of animals. And finally, the audience was introduced to Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) who joined Bran (Isaac Hempstead) and his group.
All in all a lot did happen in Dark Wings, Dark Words even if the plot only lurched forward slightly. At the end of the day it is all about the bigger picture rather than the individual episodes. Saying this, the thing that really struck me about Dark Wings, Dark Words was the supernatural elements which are now becoming more important. As Game of Thrones unfolds and the series progresses, there will be more and more of this and it will be interesting to see how the grittiness will be maintained and balanced with the fantasy.Tagged in: A song of ice and fire, Arya, Baratheon, Cersei, dragon, game of thrones, George R.R. Martin, Joffrey, Jon Snow, Lannister, lena headey, Peter Dinklage, Sansa, Stannis, Stark, The Wall, Tyrion
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter