Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Game of Thrones Quick Episode Discussion/Review - Season 5, Episode 6, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

So on HBO GO, the highlight image was of one of the Sand Snakes, and the title is Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. So without question, the episode was going to highlight a lot of Dorne. I was unsure if that was a good thing...

...and, I'm still not sure.

The confrontation between the Sand Snakes and Jamie was predicable, and surprisingly bloodless, but not terrible.

I've read a lot of commentary that decries how terrible their engagement was, and the people who say this aren't completely wrong. The buildup was laughable; watching Ellaria Sand "deploy" the girls was pretty absurd, and Bronn and Jamie remain insane for thinking their plan had any chance of working. And in actuality, the idea that five people could engage in heated combat without other people showing up, probably guards, probably people who are going to react with violence or at least the threat of violence.

The actual fight was okay, though, and while I think the editing was a little haphazard to create more of a sense of speed, the movements were fluid enough to generate drama. I can only assume, since the only injury happened to Bronn, and he was cut by the end of a Dornish spear, that we probably haven't seen the last effect of this battle just yet. Poison and such.

Arya's storyline is getting more interesting.

I think I blew through some of the Arya chapters because, like the Bran chapters, they're really about individual adventures across the countryside. I'm more of a "big picture" kind of guy. I enjoy political intrigue and large-scale activity.

That said, my speedy reading may have opened the door for the television version of Game of Thrones to provide some new entertainment. I don't remember anything about a Mines of Moria-style face room underneath the House of Black and White. And, it feels like we're getting close to where she might leave the temple and start interacting with regular people, which has the potential to be much more interesting.

Littlefinger remains full of quips.

When he zazzed Lancel about providing fantasies, I thought he was going to get popped. And when he gave Cersei a quick reminder that everyone knows about her and Jamie doing the dirty, again, I thought he was getting himself into trouble. But people seem to not want to pummel Baelish for some reason. I don't know if that's just TV, or if there's a bigger picture reason for it. Maybe people really don't want to cross The Vale? Tough to say. Regardless, the lines are good.

Jorah and Tyrion have an interesting ride ahead of them.

We're rounding out into the story as it happens in the books, but taking a different road. Regardless, we've brought in a couple new characters (including Mr. Eko from Lost), and a story arc that offers some excitement. I always enjoy seeing main characters get into battles, even though you often lose those characters because of those battles.

Also, even before Jorah and Tyrion were captured, it should be noted that their interactions were enjoyable. That's what happens when you have two good actors with good lines simply interacting as their characters would. There have been a lot of these small segments throughout the show that have worked simply because they seemed genuine: Sansa and The Hound, Joffrey and Margaery, Jon and Alliser, even Ros and Theon was pretty good. The one redeeming quality of Jamie's trip to Dorne is that we get some good old-fashioned Jamie and Bronn chatter. The characters make the show.

Ramsay Bolton is who we thought he was.

I'll admit, I wasn't sure what direction Ramsay was set to take this season. He's been put into a position of power, and he's got far more eyes on him than usual, so I didn't know if his behavior would change, out of responsibility or simply out of exposure. But of course, he's not a multi-layered character, not really. He's the physical essence of depravity, and that's really all he is. It would have been interesting if he were playing a long game, with some grand intentions, but it seems like he's really just interested in satisfying his urges.

One redeeming factor here is that Sansa will now have a specific reason to unleash the North. Whether it happens or not, or happens as I would hope it would happen (heads on spikes), who knows. But at least it's lingering out there.

Overall, it was an entertaining episode. I could've done with a little less rape, but that's the name of the Game I guess. Still, back-to-back good episodes have me excited to see how this season comes to a finish. At this point, about 1/3 of the show has gotten beyond the books, and another 1/3 is taking at least a somewhat different direction. So unlike season 4, when I knew most of what was coming (but still loved almost all of it), I'm as unsure as anybody of how things are going to turn out.

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