The Pointy End

Prince Joffrey

Anyone else dumbstruck by George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones episode last night?

( THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES EPISODE 8 AND THE BOOK )

Martin recently blogged about a technique he learned doing television years ago called sweat – trimming your writing down word by word until you’ve got nothing but the meat of it left. You can really feel the effect of that here. While I’ve always been impressed with the amount of story they’ve managed to cram into each episode, this… this. Wow. Martin didn’t pause for a moment, every minute of the fifty-eight were used to the fullest.

Septa Mordane’s incredibly brave last stand to the Lannister’s men nearly had me in tears, and I cheered as Syrio beat them down with his wooden sword. I don’t know if Martin had access to the previous scripts when writing this, but I suspect he sensed the neglected characters and resolved to fix it where he could. I don’t think I’ve seen the direwolves so much since they were introduced, and when Rickon spoke (SPOKE!) I almost didn’t realize who he was. Has he even made an appearance this whole time? Crows! They may not speak, but the cloud of them from Winterfell bidding the North to war was nothing short of epic.

Sophie Turner is doing an incredible job of Sansa, one of my favorite characters in the books. Of everyone, she really is the most screwed. I may not be able to see into her thoughts as I could in the books, but I don’t need to – it’s all there on her face. The helplessness in dealing with the Lannisters, how delicately she approaches Joffrey to beg mercy for her father. Really stellar job.

Cersei… I’m still not impressed with at all. Lena Heady is playing her far too sympathetic for my liking, making for my all-around least favorite portrayal in the series. I was hoping that the death of Robert would unleash some of the feral bitch I recall from the books but, as it stands, the magister shouting “Treason is treason!” intimidates more than Cersei.

Ser Barristan! Who is he? I’m not sure. I really need to sit down and reread the books so I have some clue what the hell is going on. But his reaction to being forced into retirement was beautiful. Just beautiful! Take that, “boy”!

Hello, I’m a terrible actor. Put me out of my misery.

This episode was almost perfect. It was so close. Were it not for one scene. One awful scene that the episode was named after, a pivotal moment for Arya’s character development. Yes, I’m referring to the stable boy. He appeared out of nowhere. To the viewer, this is all happening very quickly so it makes almost no sense that a STABLE BOY of all people is after a Stark. How does he even know anything? He comes at Arya, vomits words like a poorly dubbed horror movie and then he’s dead. Melts like the witch of the west in a fifth grade production of Wizard of Oz. Everything about it from the acting, to the bad dub, to the way it was shot summed up the worst 10 seconds this series has ever seen.

Luckily, it was literally 10 seconds, sandwiched inside the most eventful episode of the season. So I forgive it. But just this once. Let’s not do it again, please.

Wagers on when we’re going to see Ned’s head lopped off? Next episode, or will they save it for the finale?

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