Review of Game of Thrones ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’

Neela Debnath

got 300x225 Review of Game of Thrones Dark Wings, Dark Words SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen season 3 episode 2 of ‘Game of Thrones’

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.

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  • Sally Ann West

    As someone who never read the original books, I absolutely love “Game of Thrones” – its huge cast of characters are skillfully handled and never become “sword and sorcery” stereotypes. I am also enjoying Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Margaery Tyrrell – I think there’s more to her than meets the eye. Great acting, costumes, locations and sets make GOT one of the most stunning series to watch. I am not a great lover of fantasy and liked seasons 1 & 2 as they played more like medieval costume dramas – I hope the fantasy element does’nt take over and allows the characters to breathe! Early days for season 3 but so far it doesn’t disappoint.

  • Eric Baca

    I have not read the books either, but GOT is very easy to
    fall in love with. I watched the latest episode after I left my office at DISH
    last night and just the sheer scale of this fantasy series has me ready to come
    back and watch more on next week’s episode. I’ll be out of town, but that is
    not going to stop me from watching it since I have the DISH Anywhere app my
    iPhone. With it I can watch live TV no matter where I am so, there has been no
    need to miss a show in weeks.

  • Karen Kynaston

    I arrived at this ‘review’ from a link and, after reading, assumed it was written by a member of the public. This is not a review at all but a blandly written plot summary. With such rich material to work with, it is a shame that you could not find a more skilful writer.

  • Sam Poole

    This seriously reads like it was penned by a 15 year old. The Independent has a lot of bad writers, I’ve decided. Give me a job! I can write at least as poorly as this!

  • s_n_c

    Yawn. Series one was great, good script, fantastic cinematography and real drama- after that it’s gone downhill steadily. Scripts generally get bad when supernatural/magic elements crop up as anything can happen and plots can be resolved or motivated by a sudden ‘deus ex machina’ device, instead of using good writing.

    The bits with Daenerys T in particular get more excruciating as they go on. In series 2 it was like a bad remake of Dune. Now it’s looking like a fan tribute to star wars.

    For all but sci-fi and fantasy nuts (ie anyone with a mental age over 13) now is the time to stop watching.
    Series one remains magnificent but it will never again reach those levels, and the reviews merely say what the publicity machine wants…

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