TV Review: Game of Thrones, S2E4

Warning: full spoilers follow.

“Leave her face, I like her pretty”.

Despicable as he is, every scene with the terrible King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) seems more fiendishly entertaining than the last. His campaign of cruelty appears to be escalating, and the especially sick pleasure he gets in having Sansa (Sophie Turner) beaten and humiliated, while of course horrible, certainly makes for great television. Most men gifted with two whores would imagine a very different variety of pleasure, to the sadistic and malicious kind Joffrey extracts by forcing Ros (Esmé Bianco) to beat poor Daisy (Maisie Dee) with his sceptre.

Gleeson’s gleeful villainy as Joffrey has been a particular highlight this season, and he’s clearly having a lot of fun with it. To their credit, the writers clearly have no interest in offering Joffrey any redeeming qualities, and the false King’s comeuppance is will likely be quite a treat after all the hate they’re building for him. Bronn (Jerome Flynn), in his infinite eloquence, offers the apt summation that “there’s no cure for being a c*nt”, and he may be right. But with even his own mother all but admitting he’s out of control, it seems almost assured that Joffrey’s ‘cure’ will be a brutal and bloody demise. For now though, there’s no rush for it while his reign of terror is so compelling to watch.

The young actors in this series are dealing with a lot of adult material this season, some even more so than their older castmates. Their characters have been beaten, attacked, enslaved, and have witnessed a disturbing amount of torture and death. Game of Thrones has never shied away from confronting subject matter, and deserves props for daring to drag its kids through such nasty situations.

Thankfully, they’re not just spineless victims, though. Arya (Maisie Williams) finds strength in her desire for revenge, listing the names of those who wrong her, every night as she falls asleep. Even the more fragile Sansa holds her resolve, playing it smart by maintaining a public facade of loyalty to her betrothed. Too often, children in mature television are depicted as weak; overloaded with contrived innocence, and used as tiresome plot tools for adult characters. It’s refreshing to watch a show in which the children display strength amidst their peril, and shine as characters in their own right.

Okay, so now for those crazy closing moments. It was expected from her first introduction, that the mysterious Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and her ties to the ‘Lord of Light’, would bring a strong supernatural element to the show. Somewhat less expected, was that her table-sex with Stannis (Stephen Dillane) would result in a swirling shadow creature crawling its way out from between her legs – a mere two episodes later. For the night is dark, and apparently, filled with the kind of terrors brought by a sinister, adult-sized newborn, made entirely of menacing vagina-smoke. It’s difficult to speculate where they’re going with this, but it certainly proved an effective way to end the episode.

With so many whispers across Westeros, of White Walkers, dragons and other creatures of fantasy, having them woven into the main storylines was an inevitability. The possibilities this opens up are exciting to consider, and though it’s highly unlikely next week’s Game of Thrones will suddenly indulge in scenes of hardcore sorcery and cauldron-stirring, this episode undoubtedly represents a line crossed into exploration of new territory.

Bring it on.

Game of Thrones airs Tuesday nights, 8:30pm on Showcase. Click here to see more of our reviews for the series.


4.5 blergs

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