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Game of Thrones Review: Sexual Politics

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It's both the blessing and the curse of Game of Thrones: no show on television serves so many characters and storylines.

As a result, viewers must often exercise patience before learning more about their favorite Westeros residents. Consider: season one concluded on an epic shot of Daenerys and her dragons, yet she has received very little screen time so far on season two, including none at all on "What Is Dead May Never Die."

Moreover, last Sunday's "The Night Lands" cut to black on Jon Snow getting whacked over the head by Craster, only for this week's installment to barely touch upon the actions of the Night's Watch, revealing only that Lord Commander Mormont was aware of Craster's devious sacrifices all along.

Tyrion Photo

Could I watch entire episodes dedicated to Dany's journey through the Red Waste? Or to Jon Snow's adventures beyond the wall? Heck, even to cute, thimble-giving Sam and his careful courtship of Gilly? Absolutely. Game of Thrones has created layered, fascinating characters across every Kingdom.

There just isn't time each week to focus on every one.

(NOTE: Remember: I review this series from a purely television-based standpoint. To read the latest take from someone who has read the George R.R. Martin novels, check out Carissa Pavlica's review of "What is Dead May Never Die.")

So... while Stannis' craving for a son and his relationship with Melisandre were pushed aside in this case, we still got to know a lot more about one Baratheon brother, Renly. He isn't exactly as cunning as his brief first season introduction would have us believe, is he?

Soon after Robert died last year, Renly was prepared to join forces with Ned and succeed his sibling. He seemed anxious, ready, confident. Here, however? Renly gave off those traits in public, but he's nothing more than a cowering mess behind closed doors.

A gay cowering mess, that is, which - within the world George R.R. Martin has mapped out - can't be a huge deal in and of itself. There are eunuchs and prostitutes and constant talk of sex; I doubt non-royal gay men would receive a second look in Westeros. But a king? One who aims to sit on the Iron Throne? Where fathering a son and continuing the line of succession is one's most pressing duty?

Yeah. It's a big problem. Which explains Renly's insecure state and which also provided the perfect introduction to Margaery. Theirs is not a fairy tale love, that's safe to say. I don't recall Snow White asking Prince Charming if he wants her brother to come in and get him started. But Margaery isn't after true love, just the power that comes along with her hoped-for future position.

It's refreshing to watch someone so open with her plans and desires. As the title of this series states, a constant game is afoot, with motivations and actions often unclear until later on. Not for Margaery, though. She wants to be Queen. She wants to sire a royal son and she has no interest in pretending otherwise.

I feel like Tyrion would like Margaery. She's straightforward. He would know how to deal with someone like that and, man, would it save him scheming time! This little Hand of the King once again provided the most entertaining aspects of a GoT episode, maneuvering his way through potential snitches; finally outing Pycelle; and then paying the poor woman who had just serviced him in bed. Twice. Because, come on, she deserved at least that much for this job.

We were then treated to a revealing scene between Varys and Tyrion, along with more mentions of power and how best to attain it. Petyr Baelish, of course, believes that knowledge is power; while Cersei tried to prove on the season two premiere that power is power. Varys? He thinks the appearance of power is power, and he sees a future ruler in Tyrion, someone with a unique skill set of verbal manipulation.

But does Tyrion actually seek power? He has always seemed content where he is, wherever that may be, simply aiming to survive and drink a lot of wine. Things can change, however, especially when one is so close to the ultimate power in King's Landing.

Finally, there's Theon. He has seemingly made his choice. He's his father's son, a man of iron. Like so much else on this episode, he's a key piece being moved in to place. He'll soon butt heads with Robb Stark, who will likely view him as a traitor.

When will that battle take place on screen? It's unclear... but something big is on the Game of Thrones horizon. We've met new characters, we've been taken to new places, we've received new insight into past favorites. But we haven't really been shocked yet. No one we know has been killed and, as hard as it may be to believe, one-third of season two is already complete. I expect the early episode simmer to reach a bloody boil any Sunday now.

Who is your favorite new season two character so far?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (103 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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@ The King in the North : No my friend, you are mistaken. It IS Ser Amory Lorch who should be in this scene. Of course, they merged two book scenes in one for this, but even when Lommie is killed and Gendry n Arya taken prisoner, the Tickler is there but the Mountain is not in that scene either. The Mountain comes later... A great episode really. I mean, the second book is ALL about Tyrion as well, so best to put him front and center and let everyone else reach Storm of Swords at their own pace. With Dany, especially, there isn't much happening between now and Feast for Crows, so she will have very little to do in the interim. Same for Jaime (who isn't there in the second book). I think this is shaping up really well to crescendo at episode 8 (Blackwater) and set up the next season in the final two episodes.

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This season is definitely going to have Tyrion being the stand out character, as he was much so in the book. The way they played off the scene of him telling the stories to three of the most devious men in Westros was brilliantly adapted. I understand why they're doing the things they're doing for the show (when would HBO ever pass on the opportunity of overplaying someone being a homosexual) and I enjoy it. But I see a lot of the average viewers getting lost in the gaps they leave. I understand why the summarized Arya's journey and I totally get why they're focusing on Samwell in the series. Much excitement to come and I'm quite pleased with the way they're handling it.

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There's so much material! Episodes should be longer. I enjoy every minute of it and I'm always pained when the episode ends.

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Better than last week but it still hss the same problem. Too many characters and too many situations. I never thought I would say this bur do away with the gratuitios sex scenes. A few less bump and grinds mean more scenes of denarys or rob statk. Tyrion is the break out character. I could watch his clever manipulations all episode. Still its wrong to judge the whole season by 3 episodes. The pieces for a grand medieval fuadal war on another planet is being set up.

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I definately liked this episode better than last, but it must be tough to write in a story that is so spread out and given only 10 hours to tell it. I wasn't sure I liked hearing that the next book will be divided into two seasons, but seeing at how much has been cut (out of necessity), from the second book, I'm kinda glad that decision was made. And for those looking for a little more action, less exposition, after watching the preview of next weeks episode and having read the books, I will guarantee (without giving anything away), next week will be the talk of the season up to this point.

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I feel like there is way too much going on this season and have found it more frustrating than interesting. The gratuitous sex scenes are forced as well. Super letdown so far in my opinion.

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This season is brutal tonwatch ( at least so far). Too much going on. Losing interest rapidly.

Jcrv

Great episode. But I am missing seein Jon and Dany's stories, they offer contrast to the Seven Kingdoms, without then the sets seen to monotones.
I will defenitely vote Tyrion for President, but I think he is humble guy. Renly's predicament made me laught, they should make a romantic comedy base on it. Arya's story is still my favorite.

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Another comment.
The big guy in armor at the end, when Arya is captured, he is (or should be) the Mountain, seen jousting and fighting with his brother, the Hound, in season 1. And derided as an outlaw by Ned Stark.

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Gendry was in season 1, although briefly. This episode was top notch (coming from someone who has read the books), and no, I won't tell you anything you shouldn't know right now. Tyrion planning and back stabbing, he is making this sooo much of a great thing to watch. The second season (and book) has much more going on in it. Sit back and enjoy the ride, you will be glad you did. And, since HBO re-runs this a couple of time a week, re-watch it or DVR it, and LISTEN to what characters say. Little things said now can become very important later. New characters abound, and new places. It would be helpful if they showed just where some of the characters are on the map (or state it verbally) when they switch to them. It would certainly help the folks who haven't read the books.