Last week on Game of Thrones, they killed off the King. As you’d expect in a medieval fantasy show, this move rather dominates the following episode. Whodunnit? The obvious suspects are already making moves to distance themselves, and we get a pretty wide cross-section of the universe as most (but not all) of the characters react.
Not Daenerys, though. She’s busy doing some conquering. Spoilers follow.
The King Is Dead, Let’s Have A Party
In King’s Landing, Lord Tywin is looking into the murder mystery, whilst simultaneously admitting that Bad Joff’s death might not necessarily be a bad thing. He says all this as he takes new boy-King Tommen (much taller than last we saw him) under his wing for training. Charles Dance, as ever, nails his scenes and even makes a prolonged history lesson compelling.
He also badmouths the dead King in front of his grieving mother, which sends her into a rage. Fortunately, Jaime is there to comfort Cersei, then instigate a decidedly rapey sex scene. Interestingly, the director and one of the showrunners seem to disagree about how consensual that was meant to be.
Considering how hard the show has been pursuing Jaime’s redemption arc in the last year, it seems an odd path to take him down – especially since, as people have noted, the equivalent scene in the books is creepy but still explicitly consenting. Does this mean a whole new direction for TV-Jaime, or is this a mere lapse in his road to true knighthood? If it’s the second one, could be a tough sell after that scene. I know Game of Thrones likes to play the Our characters are both good and bad! card a lot, but still. Hard one to come back from.
Sansa down the conspiracy hole!
Elsewhere, Sam ditches Gilly, because he has no spine. Also hard to watch, but sadly this time quite in character. Jon Snow is still dissing his superiors, Olenna Tyrell is still stealing scenes and Ygritte embraces her wild side after Jon’s betrayal. Oh, and Tyrion’s scene with Pod was marvellous, as was the odd-couple chat between Tywin and Prince Oberyn. Love those guys together, happy to see they’re both working Tyrion’s trial.
After a few years in a state of passive King’s Landing misery, Sansa falls hard down the conspiracy hole, and it’ll be interesting to see her in a different situation. She’s been a static misery magnet for a while, and Littlefinger is always a good antiheroic presence too. Looking forward to seeing that develop.
In other Stark daughter news, Arya and the Hound are in quite a pedestrian storyline which they’re making interesting by performance alone. I’m happy to watch their strange buddy act, but a little more genuine incident would be nice.
Long chats on Dull Island
Also, didn’t Stannis vow to move north and help the Watch fight off the White Walkers? Why have subsequent episodes seen him continue to sit around Dull Island moaning about no-one recognising his royal claims? I guess these things take time, but he hasn’t mentioned it since last year’s finale. Enjoyed Sir Davos’s scene with Stannis’s daughter though.
Leave it to Daenerys to cap off the episode by taking another city, this time aided by All-New Daario. It was a fun scene, and probably a good move to end on some action after an hour of mostly talking. Still can’t get that invested in the Daenerys arc though – will she do something other than collecting cities like Pokemon soon?
In summation, after an explosive start, it looks like we’re getting into the meat of Game of Thrones season 4 now, which means lots of disparate storylines, some of which work brilliantly, others are looser. I can’t say this was the most flawless of episodes – that Jaime/ Cersei scene was a strange note, and some plots are maybe a bit slow – but there was enough good stuff here to happily take me further into the season.