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Sunday, 7 of March of 2021

Game of Thrones – “A Golden Crown”

Who can rule without wealth or fear or love?

Arya and Syrio

Sure. I could've picked something else. But why would I?

Hey, so I liked this episode.

I mean, I still had problems with the episode, but at least the boulder of exposition has been pushed down the hill and will begin to pick up speed.

I hope. I don’t know if I could tolerate the show suddenly falling back into exposition mode with only fours of story left for the season. That would totally kill all the really nice momentum this episode kicked up, and that would make me very cross.

So of course someone was going to die in this episode. There was enough foreshadowing, particularly Syrio’s speech, to make that perfectly clear. Given his relative obsolescence within that branch of the story, it seemed pretty likely that the one to go would be Viserys. But what a way to go out! A pot of melted down, boiling gold. Poured on top of his head. That is intense. And creative.

I just wish cared more about it. The Essos (correct, yes?) plotline has been the one to suffer a great deal from the necessary compression of the book’s narrative. Or so I assume since Daenerys’s character arc hasn’t been so much an arc as “She’s a different person every episode!” As a result, while I’m impressed that she seems very comfortable as the khaleesi (respect to anyone who eats a giant horse heart), she wasn’t given a great deal of subjectivity in these episodes so it all feels very flat.

I will say that that final sequence made me like Drogo a little bit as it give him a little bit of personality. He has a clear sense of morbid humor and will not tolerate excessive amounts of disrespect (though I suspect that had Daenerys asked him not to kill Viserys, he would have held back).

But Drogo’s very definitive action nicely parallel’s Ned’s very definitive action against Jaime and Cersei’s continued escalation of their rivalry. Indeed, Ned’s denouncement of Gregor’s status and standing, along with sending a posse after him, is perhaps the most proactive thing he’s done in six episodes (even if it be in reaction to something else).

Both men, Drogo and Ned, are doing what is necessary to protect their realms (and those they care about), though Ned’s actions are not truly his, as he is directing Robert’s kingdom(s) and not his own. But I like that the weight of ruling comes across both men’s plots here (and in Robb’s unwillingness to act, though this is very wise). It gives the episode some heft that has been missing for me in previous episodes up to this point.

The problems of ruling are likewise present at the Eyrie has Lysa is clearly not clever enough (or is mad with grief (or both)) to rule a kingdom (and I don’t think that we can put much stock in Robin either) or outwit Tyrion’s conniving ways. Catelyn likewise suffers from grief but also being outside her jurisdiction as it were, and can’t prevent Tyrion from acquitting himself, as it were.

Indeed, if there’s one thing the episode educates us on, and this is what makes it interesting, is that governing is a difficult task. And I like that the show has pushed forward with some thematic heft (finally), after 5 episodes of place-setting and exposition. It also brings into relief some of the tensions about war and money that has been running through the show, and I appreciate the exchange between Ned and Master of Coin Carcetti (Petyr) about soldiers and money. What Ned doesn’t seem to understand, when he rhetorically asked why Tywin Lannister isn’t king, is that being king gets you killed. Being the banker keeps you alive and rich.

But there are still problems to had. Robb, Bran, and Greyjoy remain terribly dull, and it doesn’t help that I still think Rob and Greyjoy are the same actor (who was casting those roles?). The visits to Winterfell make the episode feel a little bloated (though they are relatively brief), and because there’s so many other threads going on, the episode retains the overstuffed feeling that has marked the series from the beginning. (Poor Jon Snow. Two episodes he’s been in MIA now!)

I feel like the show could’ve used that time in Winterfell to give the Essos plot a bit more depth, give both Daenerys and Jorah a bit more development, and we’d all have been better off for it. But it’s a minor quibble in larger episode that was actually pretty good.

It’s a hail of bullets below, so brace yourself.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Sad but true: As Viserys’s head hit the ground, I thought, “Well, one less name I have to constantly triple check to make sure I’m spelling it correctly.”
  • I absolutely loathe Sansa, but damn if Sophie Turner isn’t knocking that stupid, bitchy, neglected teenage girl out of the park. (Subpoint: The Starks are truly horrible parents. Except Ned toward Arya. But Arya commands respect.)
  • In a similar vein, I’m really grooving on both Mark Addy as Robert and how the character is being written now. Likewise enjoyed Renly’s historical correction to Robert’s “Good old days” talk.
  • Oh, commoners. Either the show shows you as completely and totally helpless or desperate forest folk bent on getting as far away from the north as possible. Yeah, really not helping my original critique of how you show off commoners, show.
  • Jorah’s such a fascinating character. He’s sending information back to someone which in turn is being leaked to Varys, but think Daenerys stirs his long missed sense of nobility and honor. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into him.
  • Tyrion’s plea to the sky cell guard, “Listen to me! Listen to me!” had me looking up this. Which, in turn, made me look up this. (I am such a nerd.)
  • Speaking of Tyrion, adored his repeated use of his house’s words. Cannot wait for him to collect on the debt that Jaime and Cersei on racking up under his name. Or maybe I’m just hoping he does.
  • It’s times like these that you wish CSI: Westeros were real. At least then you could get a paternity test done very quickly. Also: No one thought it odd that Joffrey had blonde hair? Really?
  • “I should wear the armor and you should wear the gown.”
  • “I should not have hit her. That was not…kingly.”
  • “And there is only one thing we say to death: Not today.”
  • “If I sell one egg, I’ll have enough to buy a ship. If I sell two eggs, I’ll have enough to buy an army.” “You have all three.” “I need a large army.” (I loved the delivery on that last line.)
  • “I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing people to do violence for me.”
  • “I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel…” “Silence!” “What happened next?”
  • “MAKE THE BAD MAN FLY!”
  • I love that Sansa actually thinks that Arya is receiving dancing lessons. I thought she was just being snide before, but she really has no idea.
  • “Seven hells.”
  • “I don’t want someone brave and gentle and strong. I want him!” Yes, I want the dead-eyed sociopath controlled by his mommy!
  • “He was no Dragon. Fire cannot kill a Dragon.”

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