Sunday, April 6, 2014


What else is new in Game of Thrones?
Don't have enough drama in your daily life? Fear not: Game of Thrones, Season 4, begins tonight!

Why should we care? Because this show has everything—faux history, fabulous costumes, immense production values, sexy men and ballsy women (tough enough to make Katniss Everdeen look like Honey Boo-Boo), absorbing plots and counterplots, one of the coolest opening credit sequences ever devised for TV, and an irresistible component of dark magic.

Even the music is addictive; the opening theme has been the default setting in my brain for over a year.

Based on the ongoing epic fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin, the story unfolds in a Britain-like mythical realm called Westeros, with seven royal houses (and a few more upstarts) vying for the Iron Throne. There's a Hadrian-like wall in the frozen North, built to keep out the Wildling tribes (read: Picts and Scots) on the other side, and hordes of exotic chieftans, warlords and armies massing across the sea in the East.
From a traveling Game of Thrones costume exhibit
But don't think for a moment that this is a Lord of the Rings-type deal with nothing but one incomprehensible battle scene after another. There's plenty of violence in the GoT universe—most of it directed at what we thought were lead characters, in stunning reversals of what we believe to be the "rules" of series TV—but very little of it occurs on the battlefield. The body count rises thanks to treachery and betrayal, fomented by a world-class cast of schemers.
Who doesn't love Tyrion, that sly rogue?

Don't laugh when I say that GoT is character-driven. If we weren't so invested in the characters—and appalled, yet fascinated at their frequent inhumanity to each other—we wouldn't keep coming back. But from the execution of nominal hero and clan patriarch Ned Stark at the end of Season 1, faithful Thronees have come to realize that no character is safe, however beloved.

And yet, it's hard not to get attached. Take the sublime Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. A randy, frequently drunken dwarf, despised by his powerful father and underestimated by his enemies, his intelligence, acerbic one-liners, and innate moral compass (it's not his fault he was born into the reprehensible Lannister clan) make him the heart and soul (not to mention wit) of the show.

Plus, he's the only one to talk straight to the Devil-spawn boy king, Joffrey, his nephew (played to venal perfection by Jack Gleeson), reason enough to cheer Tyrion on.
Jon Snow has some 'splaining to do

Then there's the (rapidly dwindling) remainder of the Stark clan. Bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington), consecrated to the Night Watch, the monk-like brotherhood that guards the wall, always tries to do the right thing. But his betrayal of a Wildling woman who loved him last season will surely come back to haunt him—as well it should.

Budding little swordswoman, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) continues her Junior Woodchuck training in the forest with her reluctant protector, The Hound (Rory McCann), until such time as she can avenge her father's death. Meanwhile, her older sister, Sansa (Sophie Turner), under permanent house arrest with the Lannisters at the royal seat, King's Landing, has just been married off to Tyrion.

We can only hope the little goose comes to realize how lucky she is!

The story arc for Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is also undergoing reconstruction. At first, the despicable "Kingslayer, and, ahem, "uncle" to the boy king, whose mother is Jamie's devious sister, Cersei (Lena Headey), the golden boy of Clan Lannister may be be on the road to redemption.

Largely due to his odyssey last season with his former captor, noble-hearted Amazonian warrior woman Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), for whose safety and virtue Jamie ultimately risked his life and lost his hand.

The divine Diana Rigg is in here too, as somebody's elegant, sharp-tongued granny, cheerfully cracking wise and lacerating the pompous while trying to arrange a royal marriage at King's Landing.

And never count out Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), last surviving member of a deposed royal family.
Daenerys, the Dragon Whisperer

 Sure, she seems like a little blonde pushover, but she's one smart cookie. Not only did she have the sense to make a steadfast ally out of the "savage" Klingon warlord she was married off to, she's quietly amassing an army of devoted former slaves she has freed in the East while raising the three equally devoted—and growing—dragons that she has nurtured from infancy.

Of course, as in anything this epic, not every single plotline works. There's way too much torture, so much so that Thronees have a hard time remembering who's being racked by which faction. I'm sick of the witch who whips everyone into a religious frenzy. And what the heck happened to all the Direwolf pups each of the Stark offspring were given to raise in the first season? Especially Jon Snow's white wolf Ghost, who accompanied him to the wall, but now seems to have disappeared.

Nobody knows what will happen next (except those spoilsports who have already read the books).  After the infamous Red Wedding from Season 3, all we know for sure is the plot will thicken, more heads will undoubtedly roll—and those dragons are getting bigger!

No comments:

Post a Comment