I was a little worried about Blackwater, last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. The Siege of King’s Landing is no small thing, and I was wondering if HBO was going to be up to the task portraying a gigantic battle filled to the brim with boats and fire and dudes with swords. As much violence and fighting as Game of Thrones has had so far, none of it has been on any kind of grand scale. Battles have been talked about and edited around, but never has the camera really gone into the thick of it. This was new territory for the show. Was Game of Thrones up to the task?
Yes. Yes it was.
Spoilers (and way too much excitement) after the jump.
Adaptation! George R. R. Martin wrote this episode, and it’s great to see a creator successfully adapting his own work for a different medium. The Battle of Blackwater on TV was very different than in the books, but Martin seems to know it has to be different. What works in one medium doesn’t necessarily carry over into another. He knows it. He’s on board with all the changes, all of which seem to still seem Ice and Fire-y.
Good Hands, bad kings. Tyrion and Davos (whom one of my viewing companions refers to as "Not Ned") are both sympathetic characters serving terrible kings. The Battle of Blackwater is something where the viewer or reader can root both for and against each side simultaneously. Either side winning means that a horrible monarch's position is strengthened, and a good Hand's plans have been defeated. One can take in the grand spectacle of death and violence and good guys/bad guys business getting in the way.
“You can’t fuck your way out of everything” “I have so far.” Tyrion and Shae seem to have an actual relationship- Shae even seemed to feel something for Tyrion when he wasn't present. That is so, so sad.
TV Bronn has officially become way better than Book Bronn Jerome Flynn has turned Bronn into one of the standout comic relief characters of the show, and I'm really looking forward to how Bronn's storyline plays out next season. The show almost treated us to a Bronn vs. Hound fight, but then cut it off at the last minute. Not fair, show. Not fair.
FUCKING AWESOME GREEN FIERY EXPLOSION! Tyrion dealt with Stannis’ fleet in a characterisitically Tyrion way- with superior tactics and technology. Had the whole thing been up to Joffrey, he'd have just charged in and gotten everyone killed. Tyrion, though, is smart enough to know when to judiciously apply explodey wildfire (you can tell it's magical, because it's green). The destruction of Stannis' ships was quite satisfying, in no small part because it was a massive, fiery demonstration of Tyrion's ingenuity. The explosions, the green flames, all of it- it looked like what would happen if Hal Jordan suddenly decided he really hated boats.
I liked Sansa in this episode. Guys, I LIKED SANSA. She talked back to Joffrey, Tyrion, and Cersei. She wasn't passive or annoying and I actually felt bad for her. This "not disliking Sansa" thing is a new feeling for me. I'm not sure I know how to deal with it.
LANCEL, YOU LITTLE BITCH. Worst Lannister ever.
Bloody fantastic violence porn! If you're a sick bastard who likes blood (such as myself), Blackwater had much to offer. Guys had their faces crushed by rocks, the Hound bisected people in a staggeringly unrealistic fashion, a dude got the top of his head sliced away, and Tyrion chopped a soldier's lower leg off. At one point there was a guy who was on fire. On fire! It was great. Then Bronn shot him. Hell yeah. There was blood and blood and death and YEAH! (I know- I am a bad person for enjoying that kind of thing.)
“Fuck the Kingsguard, fuck the city, and fuck you.” The Hound ragequit the Kingsguard and offered to take Sansa to Winterfell. I think that Sandor identifies with Sansa because they've both been used and victimized, often by the same people. As much as he's an unstoppable juggernaut in battle, the Hound has been just as pushed around as Sansa.
Drunk Cersei seems fun. I'll bet she's a hit at parties.
You’re a sniveling coward, Joffrey. Actually, I liked that Joffrey was shown in a moment of fear. He is, after all, still a boy, and he did what lots of scared kids would do when given a way out- he took it.
Stannis, wear your damn helmet. As much as I think that Stannis is a horrible ass, I have to give him credit for wading into battle with his men. I also wished that he'd put on a helmet. Seriously, Stannis. Guys are throwing rocks at you.
“There are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!” Tyrion has proved his worth as a manipulator and administrator, but not really as an inspiring leader who gets people going. Last night, however, Coach Tyrion gamely inspired the citizens of King’s Landing to go out there and win it. Clear eyes, full hearts, long stabby swords!
GO, PODRICK! YEAH. I like Podrick. Two people with whom I was watching the show had not read the books, and were noticeably shocked when a member of the Kingsguard sliced Tyrion across the face. They also jumped when Pod stabbed the guy. "What the fuck was that?" asked one of my uninitiated friends. I just grinned at him.
So, did HBO pull off staging a huge battle? Absolutely. It wasn't as gut-punchingly amazing as, say, the Helm's Deep section of The Two Towers, but still... the battle was a thing to behold on the small screen, and I'm impressed that it even existed in the first place. My only complaint about the Blackwater: Not enough Davos. The season finale is next week. We'll be back with Jon, Arya, and Daenerys, and Dany will finally see about getting her damn dragons back. That should be... interesting.