Not as shocking to me personally as the first, but still a solid watch.
I’m not sure if this episode was generally slower which is why I have fewer thoughts, or simply that the shock of the first episode has worn off. Anyway, thoughts below.
I really like Harry Lloyd in the role. He looks like a right proper lunatic. I meant to actually comment on that in the thing I wrote about the first episode but I forgot. There’s something about the way he sets his face, something in his unblinking eyes that screams ‘violently deranged’. It’s a tremendously well-done portrayal; seeing Viserys onscreen makes me vaguely uncomfortable because of how effortlessly Lloyd seems to portray a man on the edge. He spent a good part of his time talking about how things will change when he gets his crown. Oh boy. Can’t wait.
Another person I forgot to talk about in my thoughts on episode one. Emilia Clark really has done a magnificent job – she pulls off innocent so well that every single scene that she has with Drogo is utterly heartbreaking. In the first episode, in the scene with Viserys and the tub and the one immediately after in which she says “I want to go home” she’s so convincingly a child that’s being used and abused that watching her made me profoundly uncomfortable. And, in the previous episode, her first night with Khal Drogo was … well, disturbing, to put it mildly. Wasn’t much different in this episode either, but having her take charge and do what little she can to own the situation in some small way was good to see. Episode 2 is where I think we start to see the first glimpses of the Dany that will be and I’m legitimately looking forward to seeing the transformation on screen.
I have come to the conclusion that Jason Momoa does not audition for his roles. If the part calls for a bearded, long-haired side of beef, he will simply be cast and someone will send him an email telling him that it happened. In much the same way as he was a magnificent Conan and Arthur Curry, Momoa simply is Khal Drogo. Large, ominous, rough, he looks the part of someone who’s never been beaten in battle. Good stuff.
Joffrey is a proper little prick and I suspect that the effortlessness with which Jack Gleeson plays the character is something that will follow him to his grave. He’s as naturally Joffrey as Maisie Williams is Arya. I was in awe of the skill with which he flipped from sweet talking Sansa to taunting the butcher’s boy, to whimpering on the ground, to smugly secure at his mother’s side later in the episode. Despite successfully channelling the nastiness that is Joffrey, Gleeson also manages to remind us that, inherently villainous though he may be, Joffrey is still a child and he balances that particular act staggeringly well.
This is the episode in which our poor, beloved, honourable Eddard Stark finally starts to realise exactly what he’s walking into. The look on his face when he realises what’s going to happen to Lady, his barely-controlled anger when he found that Arya had been taken to the King instead of him, and his awareness of his own impotence when he’s staring down Cersei – this is Ned from the books, brought to life in a beautiful, beautiful way. The contrast becomes that much more powerful when I think about how the episode began – with him and Robert reminiscing – and how much simpler things are when it’s just the King and his Hand. Eddark is a man uncomfortable with politicking and it shows; Robert needs Ned around because of who he is, but it’s because of who he is that Ned is largely unequipped to handle the Lannisters.
I love him. He slapped Joffrey. He made Myrcella and Tommen laugh at breakfast. And all he really wants is to stand at the top of the wall and piss off the edge of the world. He is glorious. That is all. Carry on.
Bran opens his eyes
This was my favourite moment of the episode, simply because of how it was shot and edited in with Ned and Lady. A Song of Ice and Fire has always strayed away from the things that are typically associated with traditional fantasy, so the little moments stand out a heck of a lot more and feel more potent as a result. That scene does so much. It speaks to the connection between the Starks and their direwolves. It speaks somewhat of their connection to each other as well. And it sets Bran up as being a pivotal part of the story to come.
So, overall, good stuff. I’m two episodes in and happy so far. The story moves along at a good clip. Things are happening. And the series is careening cheerfully towards the many and varied disasters that I know are coming.
Onward to episode 3!