Features and Columns · TV

Blog of Thrones: Much Learning to Be Done From ‘The Old Gods and The New’

By  · Published on May 7th, 2012

It’s time to call you back in, my Bannermen. And Bannerladies. As you well know, Winter is Coming. And as we steam past the midpoint of season two, the big season finale is also coming to the lands of Westeros. So our weekly Blog of Thrones can see the end of this round, not clearly, but on the horizon. This week we learn plenty of lessons along with the denizens of Winterfell, King’s Landing, Harrenhal and whatever the hell they call those mountains north of The Wall. These lessons will likely come back to be important later in the season, as many a collision course is being set. War may be upon these gamers of thrones, but we are yet to see the real bloodbath that is to come.

As always, Blog of Thrones is written from the perspective of a relative novice to George R.R. Martin’s books. It focuses solely on Game of Thrones the show and assumes that you’ve seen everything up to the latest episode. If you travel down this Kingsroad and find yourself spoiled, the king will know the reason why.

Lesson #1: Taking Winterfell is a very bad idea

That Theon Greyjoy, he’s going to be in a world of hurt when his bigger, much scarier “brother” Robb Stark gets ahold of him. Traditional wisdom would suggest that this won’t end well for the remaining son of Balon Greyjoy, but nothing is ever certain in Westeros. The opening of this week’s episode reminds us of two things: (1) the “Iron Price” is expensive and (2) it’s been a while – a week, to be exact – since an important character has died. Ser Rodrik is no Renly Baratheon, but it was high time for a good beheading. The imagery of Theon having to take several hacks at it was also striking. In the past, it’s been large men the likes of Ned Stark doing it in one fell swoop. Young Greyjoy is far from being a large man of war, and as Rodrik explains, he’s now truly lost. This above all places was a great place to begin this episode, one that is all about new intrigue as Winter approaches.

Lesson #2: Not killing Wildlings will get you lost, and mildly aroused

You have to hand it to Jon Snow. Failing to kill a Wildling girl is one thing, but at least he picked a totally cute ginger Wildling girl to not kill. I can’t say for sure, of course, but Ygritte (played by the lovely Rose Leslie) seems like an important character. She’s definitely cunning and dangerous for Jon Snow and the men of The Night’s Watch.

Lesson #3: Tyrion Lannister is still winning

Despite the fact that Joffrey’s return to season two after a few episodes of absence found him to still be more than a little bit of a shit, it was quite nice to see him get hit in the face with poo. His response was exactly what one would expect from a tightly wound, power-hungry teenage: a hard-lined rage and rash orders to kill, kill, kill! But lets back up a moment and focus on a very important moment between Tyrion and Cersei. Evidence that the Imp’s plan is working is found in the cold, but obviously flustered face of Cersei. Lena Headey, as always, is great at selling what’s under the surface. Her words are calm and seemingly calculated as she explains to Tyrion that she’ll someday hurt him back (but I like Shae the Whore!), but she’s clearly becoming agitated and flustered. With mommy dearest flustered and the boy king handing out death sentences to turd tossers, it may not take a siege from the outside to turn King’s Landing on its head. Luckily, there’s a half-man who will surely keep it all together and somehow find a way to escape with power intact for Team Lions.

“And now I’ve struck a King. Has my hand fallen from my wrist?” Every time Tyrion slaps Joffrey, an angel gets its wings.

Lesson #4: The Mother of Dragons is not to be trifled with…

I knew it! Of course there was something up with the Beneath the Planet of the Apes house of Qarth. While Dany Targaryen was off trying to charm spice lords and avoiding marrying a large, charming, constantly self-proclaimed rich guy, someone swooped in and stole her Dragons. If she’s to live up to the badass nature of her house, we’ll likely see her burn that mother down at some point. Then we’ll all remember a time when Qarth was the greatest city that ever was… period.

Lesson #5: We should probably be taking notes, just to keep up…

Like the books – which I’m currently reading, but as promised, no spoilers – the show has found a great rhythm for checking in with the right characters at the right times. Each chapter a different character’s experience, each episode now full of character-driven vignettes. Credit the writer’s room – namely co-executive producer Vanessa Taylor, all of whom’s episodes this season have been expertly balanced while moving from character to character. She does so again tonight, and well.

We check in with Arya Stark, who’s in the midst of getting herself into trouble again. Luckily, the show’s new most interesting side character, Jaqen H’ghar, is there to bail her out. We get back to Robb Stark and his mother, who find out about what we saw at the top of the show. Then swinging back North of the Wall, it’s more time with Jon Snow and his wily little Wildling love bird. Then back in a flash to Camp Stark, where the ferocity of Richard Madden’s performance as the eldest Stark comes roaring into the episode’s final moments. “Then I’ll take his head myself.”

It shouldn’t be too difficult, considering the latter moments in which Theon shows us all about where his head is at. It’s not paying attention to his two prized prisoners, allowing Osha (Natalia Tena) to just sex her way right out of Winterfell. Oh Theon Greyjoy, you were a fun character to watch. Now we’ll have to have fun watching you die.

This Week’s Final Thought: Do you also miss Renly Baratheon? His death weighs heavy on mine own heart. Oh boy, I’m starting to review this George R.R. Martin stuff in the words of George R.R. Martin. I may be going mad. Hopefully that will clear up by next week.

Next Week: Theon Greyjoy becomes very angry as he continues to realize that he’s “A Man Without Honor.” Watch the HBO promo for next week’s episode below:

You are hereby ordered to read more Blog of Thrones.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)