Each week, Vulture brings you a postshow debate from a total Game of Thrones newbie, Margaret Lyons, and a longtime superfan, Adam Pasick. This week, "Lord Snow" wove a tale of badass sword-fighting, power-threatening babies — and, alas, a little bit of boredom.
MARGARET LYONS "Someday, you'll sit on the throne, and the truth will be what you make it." I guess that's the guiding vibe for this week, and we saw that "create-your-own-reality" theme from a bunch of characters. Arya's padawan training, Daenerys taking charge, Catelyn opening her medieval detective agency — hurray for people doing things! "Lord Snow" had some moments that rang incredibly true to life, too, which was something we hadn't really seen before. "I know a story about a boy who hated stories" was a perfect line, because it's completely human and normal and sort of humorous — which made the contrast to the genuinely frightening tales of what Winter is even more ominous.
I have a few lingering beefs, though. (1) I still find parts of the show deeply, deeply boring. Please, don't show me sword fighting — give me more of that national debt conversation! How riveting. (2) I need a little more development from the characters who are changing — wait, Daenerys is now into her husband? Totally? — and a little more depth from the ones who are just evil. (I'm looking at you, Prince Draco Malfoy.) (3) Enough boobs. Seriously, I know, it's HBO, the boob capital of the world or whatever, but this week was chockablock with ambient bare breasts. I'm sure the people out there writing their dissertations on "The Male Gaze in George R.R. Martin's Work" are having a field day, but I'm finding it irritating at this point. Finally, the accents are really taking me out of the show. The British accents are okay I guess, although if I'm supposed to be discerning class distinctions or regional variances between them, à la Rome, I guess I'm missing out. But the Dothraki accents are wildly inconsistent, and Arya's sword teacher had an entirely different accent on top of that. Is this important? With these kinds of sprawling stories, it's hard to know what subtleties are actually worth paying attention to. There's a lot of talk about the different nations/regions, and the different religious practices, and various cultural strife — it's not so crazy to wonder about linguistics, is it?
I don't really want to know the answer to this I don't think, but the big question in my head now is IS winter coming? Are we going to see it? Like soon, please? I'm getting used to the gloominess of the show, but I need the impending doom to pend already.
ADAM PASICK Lots of talk about long summers and summer-born children this episode. I can't really say without lapsing into spoiler territory how long it will be until winter, but "the Starks are always right eventually," as Maester Aamon tells us.
A lot of this episode did seem to drag. The kingdom of Westeros is deep in debt! If I wanted a drama about government deficits, I'd be dipping into my cache of Tivo'd C-Span footage! Although, hello, Mayor Tommy Carcetti, who has left Baltimore behind and branched out into pimping and carefully tended goatees for his new incarnation as Lord Petyr "A True Friend Who Would Never Betray Us" Baelish.
Our two favorite spinoff candidates ("Jon and Arya in Charge"?) spent this episode wielding practice swords. Jon's got skills, but only because he grew up a Lord's son; meanwhile, Arya gets taught by an ambiguously accented "dancing master." Like tennis and golf, it seems that sword fighting is a game for rich people who can afford private lessons.
LYONS And we haven't even talked about the Game of Thrones Baby Bump Watch! Oh man. I was sort of confused by the timeline — wait, she's two months pregnant? — but I think what I was drawn to for this part of the plot was that it seemed like good news. (At least to Daenerys and her husband. Everyone else seemed freaked out.) No one on this show gets good news about anything, ever, so it was just nice to have a moment of relief from the chronic devastation.
PASICK It seemed fitting that we're getting a royal pregnancy story line the same week Kate Middleton was inducted into the Official Breeder of Heirs to the British Empire Club. Dany and Khal Drogo can have cuddles while they talk about baby genders, but for everyone else — from the Dothraki to the people of Westeros — it means a potential new king, or khal, or both. That's momentous stuff, and we didn't even get to buy commemorative Dany and Drogo tea towels.
I'm increasingly feeling like the show has done poorly with this story line. In the book, the Dothraki were an irresistible army of hundreds of thousands who were able to sack any city in their path. Hence the fear of King Robert that they could put a Targaryen back on the Iron Throne. We've been told but not shown this in the adaptation. The most we see of the Dothraki horde is a caravan of a few dozen horses. Couldn't the creators have used some of that HBO money to give us some CGI-enhanced imagery of what a real horde looks like?
And I'm still not buying Jason Momoa as Drogo. The script gives him nothing to work with, he doesn't exude any charisma or personality, and so his transformation from brutal wife raper to contented postcoital snuggler makes absolutely no sense. It's looking like Game of Thrones first genuine misfire.
And, by the way, I would totally buy those tea towels.