“The high road’s very pretty, but you’ll have trouble marching your army down it.”
Game of Thrones
Continuing The Further Adventures of Westeros, Garden of Bones, the fourth episode in the show’s second series, sees the politicking of the game of thrones gain an entirely new layer as various new mysteries unfold themselves. Danaerys and her Dothraki chums finally come to the end of the desert, seeking entrance into the fabled city of Qarth, ruled by the enigmatic Thirteen; Tywin Lannister is Up to Something on the roads north, as his men seek news of something called the Brotherhood from captured villagers (including Arya’s ill-fated caravan destined for the Night’s Watch); and that dratted fire priestess woman gives birth to a monstrous creature somewhere on the shores of the sea who reminds me very much of Mordred from the Dark Tower septet.
Alongside all that, there’s the usual backstabbing and negotiating going on all over Westeros, with Tyrion being awesome as usual, rescuing the humiliated Sansa from the hands of King Joffrey, Catelyn attempting to broker an agreement between the intractable Baratheon brothers, and Robb Stark coming to terms with what his war really means (“You’re fighting to overthrow the king, yet you have no plan for what comes after?” says one woman to him with what feels like it may become prescience).
Despite a rather wooden opening featuring two bit-part players whose acting is…less than good, then, Garden of Bones is, on the whole, an impressively involved episode, with some great commentary on the vicissitudes of war. It’s also an episode which does some rather clever things with its character arcs, pushing several of the strongest characters of the show into positions of weakness. It was, for instance, interesting to see Danaerys’ stubbornness, the force of will which has proved so effective with the might-is-right culture of the Dothraki, fail utterly in the face of the vastly more subtle commercial politics of the Thirteen; Danaerys is, without doubt, a strong character, but that doesn’t mean that she’s invincible.
Garden of Bones is possibly one of the more violent episodes I’ve seen, with plenty of ‘orrible torture and general nastiness, though this bothers me less at the moment than the near-constant nudity (almost exclusively female, of course) and the fact that most of the women – certainly most of the bit-part women – are there apparently only to be slept with. Of course, this isn’t new, but it is kind of beginning to grate somewhat.
But there’s plenty of intrigue here to be going on with, as well as the prospect of more supernatural happenings coming up soon, as well as a few mysteries to be solved. While I don’t expect the show to become any less graphic in the near future, hopefully the politics and subterfuges of Westeros can continue to be involving enough to outweigh its irritations.