I said this show would pick up, and holy **** was I right.
Gone (at least mostly) is the plodding, awkward exposition that marred the third and fourth episodes. Game of Thrones suddenly feels much more streamlined, more exciting, and more fun. We finally get to see a few swordfights, and get the answers to a few mysteries that plagued us for the first half of the season.
The actors are much more interesting to watch now that they’re talking about things other than wars that happened a long time ago. While there is still some exposition, it’s better handled, woven in in ways that feel more natural.
Yeah, Tywin. You…um…skin that deer.
And the best actor award goes to…not actually Peter Dinklage, in my opinion. He’s certainly good, but in these episodes, apart from being snarky and amusing, he doesn’t get to do all that much. He spends episodes 5 and 6 in prison, and doesn’t even make a appearance in episode 7.
For me, the person who stole the show was Lena Headey is Cersei Lannister. Right now, she is in danger of being more sympathetic than our de-facto protagonist, Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), and upstaging Sean Bean is no easy feat by any means. Admittedly, she is playing a more complex character. In these episodes, Sean Bean doesn;t get to do much more than look dramatic and bitch about how everyone else is totally not living up to his honorable expectations.
The one who isn’t always living up to my expectations is Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon, the king. When he’s being subtle, he’s excellent, as can be seen in the above scene (which is his best scene in the show). Unfortunately, he’s not playing a subtle character. He’s playing an impulsive, bitter, drunk king prone to fits of violence. When he yells at Ned Stark that he will have his head on a spike, he doesn’t sound like an angry king, so much as someone playing an angry king in a school play. And his drunken laugh has to be about the least convincing laugh I’ve ever heard. Luckily, we won’t have to hear that laugh any more…because the series has taken a very grim turn. People are beginning to die off, wars are starting, our honorable heroes are getting tossed in jail, and oh, the blood is beginning to flow.
Of course, fans of the books might notice that this series has stayed pretty true to the books, but there are a few times when it makes changes. And in doing so, it reveals the dangers that can come from starting a series based on a book series that has not yet been finished (here’s looking at you, Harry Potter). While the changes they made to a certain attempted poisoning scene certainly added a lot of character development to a certain exiled knight, they also set up a plot hole that, while evident now if you really pay attention, will become more apparent in future seasons–unless of course the writers pay attention and so something to fix it. As near as I can tell, you’ve got a spymaster conspiring to return an exiled queen to the throne who decides to do this by…poisoning said queen? Yeah, that might not be the best strategy. Hopefully, someone will notice this doesn’t make a lick of sense and do something about it. Like maybe the author of the books, who is supposed to be on the show to prevent stupidity like this.
Anyway, Game of Thrones has truly gotten good, and here’s hoping it continues to be so until the end.