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Sunday, 7 of March of 2021

Game of Thrones – “The Pointy End”

I know he must be punished, but all I ask is mercy.”

Ned in the dark

"The madness of mercy."

Have I mentioned how exhausting I find this show? Not recently? Well, it’s exhausting.

This week my exhaustion stems from the fact that this episode throws the show’s normal narrative pacing to the wind and packs in what was about a month, month and a half worth of in-story events into a single episode. Never have ravens flown faster or people covered more ground than in this episode. And since the episode doesn’t make clear how much time is passing, the episode feels like all of this is happening in a matter of days instead of weeks.

Certainly there’s value to this compression of the narrative as it ratchets up the tension and suspense in a show where both have been largely absent (a sense of gloom and doom (“Winter is coming.”) does not equal tension or suspense) as we move into the final hours of the season, but in a show that relishes expository talk, would it have killed someone to say “It took us a month to get here!” or “Ned’s been in a cell for weeks!”?

Such dialog does not even require the use of women having sex with another! …Or is that why it wasn’t included?

So while this compression of the episode’s time and space annoyed me a fair amount, it did not prevent the episode from being enjoyable, or, at the very least, insanely quotable (see below). The Lannisters’ systematic eradication of the Starks’ attendants (that nurse is ballsy) during the…is it a coup? I mean, technically, Joffrey is next in line. So it is a coup? I don’t know. Anyway.

The death of the retainers and the attendants of House Stark was expertly handled, and very riveting. I was surprised by how moved I was by Syrio’s (apparent) sacrifice, given how little screen time he had received. But then he did also just knock around five men using only a wooden sword. That was amazingly cool.  I do feel like they rushed Arya’s first kill (even if it be accidental) with Needle, but I balanced it out against the fact that Arya is so innately amazing that even Varys’ spies can’t track her down. I demand a spin-off.  She can head to Miami, be a rival for Michael Westen.

It was mostly the King’s Landing stuff that drew me in at all, actually. Sansa’s pleas for Ned really worked for me. She may be a brat, but she’s a brat that’s way out of her element here, and she’s starting to realize that. So she does what she can to save Ned (I do not think she will be successful given the fact that Joffrey (by way of Cersei) is a little sociopath), and I admire that.

But the rest of the Westeroso stuff, namely Robb and the Lannisters outside of King’s Landing, felt very much like a very late in the season episode of Lost where everyone hurries up and waits for the last couple of hours so all the shit can go down. Like with Daenerys (Ha! Just spelled it correctly without looking it up! A first!) before him, Robb’s development feels a little rushed, but not as rushed. I still don’t know why, or care, why Greyjoy is around.

Speaking of Daenerys, the Essos stuff this week was still kind of “meh.” While I’ll get slammed for complaining about cultural politics, but Daenerys whole “Well, if they want to sleep with them, they need to marry them” spiel felt a little silly given her current situation. I do like that people within Drogo’s command are starting to question him, but clearly he’s the Khal for a reason (Syrio versus Drogo. Tough call). I suspect, however, that that little cut will be the end of him. (Gotta winnow down this cast some more.)

Over at the Wall: ZOMBIES. OMGZ. Okay, so they’re not saying the zed-word, but they’re not White Walkers, either, are they? They didn’t have the eyes or skins that we saw in the first episode, so what are they exactly?  In either case, I’m kind of divided on the undead (until I get a better term, that what they are). On the one hand, issues of magic and the occult and the supernatural have not be running through this series, so the appearance of the undead feels very jarring to me. But, on the other, we were prepared for it in the pilot, so it shouldn’t be that jarring. Likewise, this is pretty jarring for the characters, so I’ll roll with it until the crossover with The Walking Dead.

To a larger thematic concern though, and hopefully something we can discuss in the comments: I enjoyed the episode’s (obvious and repeated) mention of mercy in this episode. What is mercy in this world? Like honor, what place does mercy have in this post-Mad King world? The Fool, in the comments for the previous episode, talked about how the Arryns have an incredibly deep (and apparently debilitating) sense of honor. Does anyone strive for mercy in their house?  Where does mercy fit in the upcoming “winter”/winter?

For me, it feels like mercy is not something that is commonly found. Issues of the law, honor, and class seem to override any idea of mercy. Is Robb behaving foolishly by granting the Lannister spy his life? Is it mercy or strategy (make Tywin think they’re coming directly for him, and instead hit the bridge)? And will Daenerys’ mercy toward the sheep herders be Drogo’s undoing? Certainly this lack of mercy contributes to the overriding sense of doom and gloom in the series, but what comfort can mercy give anyone in this world?

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • “My tongue lied. My eyes shouted the truth.” Words to live by on this show.
  • “Watching is not seeing, dead girl. The seeing, the true seeing, that is the heart of sword play.”
  • “Not today. Not today.”
  • “Why is that no one ever trusts the eunuch?”
  • “I serve the realm. Someone must.”
  • Hey, Sam, you’re pretty sharp!
  • “What do you want, Bronn? Gold? Women? Golden women?”
  • So I totally love Shagga, son of Dolf and leader of the Stone Crows.
  • Tyrion seems able to talk his way out of most anything.
  • “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” Yes, but you’re running out of options, aren’t you?
  • I take it that other boy was the otherwise forgotten Stark child? Rickon?
  • “How can they watch when they have no eyes?’
  • Yay for funny nudity…?
  • I love how everyone knows it’s Cersei “writing” these letters. Her reputation knows no bounds.
  • So let me get this straight. No women rulers anywhere (they rule by proxy), but the mountain tribes have a female in charge of a group? The “uncivilized barbarians.” Oh, I love it.
  • “My father understands mercy, when there is room for it. And he understands honor. And courage.” And look where it got him.
  • “Winter is coming for him.” That was kind of badass, Robb. Bravo.
  • “You let my father die! You’re too old to protect anyone!”
  • Joffrey is totally owning that throne. I LOVE IT.
  • “Even now I could cut through through the five you like carving a cake.”
  • “Here, boy! Melt it down and add it to the others.”
  • Okay, I take it back. I want Arya and Barristan to have their own spin-off.

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