Game of Thrones: The Pointy End

“Let the storm rage on;
The cold never bothered me anyway.”
 

Frozen

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES SEASON ONE.

Okay, Constant Reader, it’s episode eight of Game of Thrones and the end is in sight. In The Pointy End, WAR (and I assure you, the capital letters are justified) finally breaks out, as Ned Stark is arrested by the Lannisters for treason and the Stark brothers lead an army from Winterfell to free him. And if that isn’t enough excitement for one episode, Khal Drogo is preparing to sail across the Narrow Sea to attack the Iron Throne, and the dead are rising at the Wall…

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF IN WESTEROS!

WOOOO!!!

Ahem.

I may be slightly overexcited. But there’s real darkness here, as Joffrey Lannister, spoilt, vindictive and power-crazed, ascends the Iron Throne, backed by his aptly-named if misspelled mother Cersei. And, of course, we all know who his father was…

But darkness rests not with the Lannisters alone. The Stark brothers are, in their own way, every bit as brutal, as Robb has a man’s fingers torn off for potential treason, and as they gamble their sisters’ lives on a military victory. And just when we’re beginning to side with Daenerys and her Dothraki chums, we’re reminded how cruel and vicious their lives are, as the clan attacks a peaceful villages for slaves to sell to buy passage across the “poison water”. And, at the Wall, “the cold winds are rising”, as a Wilding in Winterfell reminds us. (Oooh, that’s spooky.)

One thing I was less than enthralled by, however, was Charles Dance’s performance as Tywin Lannister. I’m not sure if it’s the character or the acting, but he’s simply not as interesting or as well-drawn as any of the other main characters (with the possible exception of Robb Stark). Even the spymaster Varys, who does not have what you might call a major role in the action, has more to him. Tywin feels like a bit of lazy writing, a fairly stereotypical macho fantasy type, bent on conquering the world or whatever.

Luckily, he doesn’t have a major role, and his exchanges with Tyrion are sufficiently tragicomic to carry the episode through these scenes without dragging. And, in a series like this, I think we can excuse one slip-up.

There’s a fair amount of bloody violence, of course, and some political wrangling; despair and darkness abound, as well as black humour and a hint of supernatural menace. It’s a near-perfect mix for an episode that looks set to bring in one heck of a series ending. Winter, and war, is coming. And I can’t wait.

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