This show, for all the CGI wizardry, has been successful due to incredible writing and acting. This show, like the Harry Potter series, cast child actors in critical roles, and had to bet that the acting chops would continue to develop, and that nobody would do stupid Lindsey Lohan type things.
And GoT cast child actors older than in the books. Child actors aren't known, other than in exceptional cases, for turning in showcase performances. The older the better, as far as knowing your craft. There have been lots of kids or young adults cast in this show who made it to season Six: Arya, Sansa, Rickon, Bran of House Stark. Robert of House Arryn. Tommen of House Baratheon.
Not a lot of twists and turns to this episode. Pretty much just straight ahead. Kind of like Rickon's evasion tactics (too soon?). Serpentine, Rickon...serpentine! Points for you if you recognize a line from The In-Laws.
We're reaching the end of Season Six. You can see the beginnings of some resolutions, as possibilities are discarded and paths are chosen. The major characters, often caught up in the flow of greater events around them, are now starting to tentatively (and sometimes forcefully) choose to carve their own way rather than let events happen to them.
There is a fair amount to quibble about in this episode, in comparison with the books. Sometimes it's just a necessary shortcut, and sometimes it subverts the story in the book significantly. I'm not going to get wrapped around the axle about it. I'm viewing this story as separate but related to the books. The Glovers, the Hound, the Greyjoys...in a way, I'm glad they're not spoiling the release (hopefully) of the books to come.
There is a lot to celebrate about this episode, too. A fantastic and all too brief appearance by Ian McShane, the grumpiness of the Queen of Thorns, Bronn's vulgar wit, an excellent scene with a 10-year old bear cub, and most of all, the return of...
The episode title is a Dothraki term used to recognize when someone has pledged themselves to you as a blood rider. And that applies to the closing scenes of this episode. However, there are a number of other ways the title applies - Sam and Lord Tarly, Bran and Benjen, Jamie and Tommen (and Cersei), Brynden and Edmure. Even, in the sense that we've seen Starks refusing to kill senselessly (and thereby putting themselves in mortal danger), Arya and Ned.
For all that this week had no Tyrion, no Jon, no Littlefinger, it was still very entertaining, and we are speeding toward the endgame.
The pace continues. New players added. Long time players eliminated. It's hard to see right now where some of these stories will end.
Given the stuff going down North of the Wall, it's hard to see the importance of the goings on at King's Landing, or in Dorne, or with Sam. Still, in the broad scope of the good/evil battle, the most affecting things are the emotion of a queen for her dying subject, or the question of a name, finally answered.
A strong episode, with an ending I didn't foresee.
Edd is having a hard time with Jon's decision to leave. For him, it comes down to one simple fact - the Others are coming. Nothing else matters in the face of that.
For Jon, it also comes down to one simple fact - he was assassinated by the Night's Watch. Is he supposed to pretend that didn't happen?
They are interrupted by a single horn blast announcing visitors. Sansa, Brienne and Pod have made it to the gates of Castle Black. After all they've (separately) been through, it's obvious that neither Sansa nor Jon can truly believe they're seeing each other, but eventually they believe their eyes and embrace.
When last they saw each other, Sansa was on her way to King's Landing to live out her dreams as the wife of the gallant Prince Joffrey, and Jon was on his way to serve the honorable institution of the Night's Watch. Reality waved the left hand to draw their attention and then hit them with a haymaker right cross square in the jaw.
When comparing the books and the series, it's the little things that stand out, ultimately.
Forgive me while I go on a tangent here...
Yes, Dorne is very different (I prefer the book version), but mostly the series has stayed true to the overall direction of the books, allowing for the fact that it would be impossible to do everything to the level of detail in the books. If they had, the show would probably never have been greenlighted, and the pilot would have been 15 hours long.
So as I was watching this episode, there were little things that the book delved into but the series chopped for reasons of trying to get through a story, and they jumped out at me. A couple of things regarding Gilly and Sam (that I won't go into). At least one missing person at the Tower of Joy.
But on the other hand, it's now impossible to read Tyrion's lines in the book and not hear Peter Dinklage's voice. Ostensibly, it was a throwaway scene, but Tyrion sitting with Missandei and Grey Worm was fantastic. For another example - Jonathan Pryce does a wonderful job as the High Sparrow, and as a result his character in the book is richer for it.
Overall, is the book better than the show, or the show better than the book? The answer (for me) is that both are significantly enhanced by the other, Together they are better than either alone.
This one packed a punch or two, didn't it? Three significant deaths, and one very significant undeath. Power shifting hands, wildcards being played, opportunities being seized and fumbled. A long-awaited appearance from the Crow's Eye, the resurrection of a Crow, a long awaited preview from the eye of the crow, and a demonstration of power through vulnerability by the High Sparrow. It was not a flawless episode, but the exposition took a backseat to the story rocketing forward. And once again I'm left saying "that was NOT an hour!".
I've been doing a reread leading up to this season, thinking about GRRM and his glacial writing pace, and wondering where the show is going to take us now that they are somewhat unencumbered by the audience's foreknowledge of what's to come. A few things to note:
- Damn, it's hard to reread certain parts - like Ned's naivete, the Red Wedding, etc. I suspect that part of the "difficulty" is in not knowing the ultimate outcome. But I sped through parts of the books not wanting to dwell on how pissed off they made me, book and show.
- GRRM puts a LOT of foreshadowing in this series, much of which you're oblivious to the first (or second) time through. I first read GOT when it came out, then reread it on my way through each of the next two books. When you first meet the old lady at High Heart (not in the show), you might think of her as some crazy woman blathering nonsense. She dreamed of a maiden with purple snakes in her hair? Whatever, granny. And then you move on and the rest of the book happens. Only when you reread it do you connect that dream to Sansa and the manner of Joffrey's death. Good stuff. Lots of intricacy and complexity and it's well told.
- Is this the first time a show based on a book series gets to take the story to its finish BEFORE the author does? I believe the writers have indicated that they are deliberately deviating from where they know GRRM is going to take the story (hello, Dorne!). And normally, when a movie is based on a book, the people who loved the book hate the liberties the movie takes with the story, but GRRM's tardiness means that the author generating the work may not get first crack at setting audience expectation. How can the original author be viewed as taking liberties with the story the show told? Interesting.
At any rate, we are beyond the books, so anything goes. We are in a spoiler-free zone, although I still think it would be appropriate to NOT regurgitate online theories that have been the subject of someone's graduate thesis in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Though none of us can truly spoil the ending, you can still ruin the joy of discovery for those who don't want to "know" the credible theories of what's coming.