Thoughts on Thrones: A little less conversation, a little more action?

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Six Game of Thrones addicts give their thoughts on last night's epic fifth episode of the fourth season, First Of His Name.
Grandad Lannister looks a little troubled. Money problems, pop?
Grandad Lannister looks a little troubled. Money problems, pop?

Bridget Jones (a latecomer, but only because she is incredibly impatient and prefers binge-watching. She'll look at spoilers, but will always deny it):
I think we can all agree, this show has got very talky recently; all chat, little action (apart from that really awesome sword-head-tongue thing last night, obviously). Some people might be over this whole hurry-up-and-wait-thing, but you have to admit, there are some pretty great (and surprisingly hilarious) yarns being had in lieu of bloodshed, and Cersei is at the root of the best ones. Take the conversation between her and Margaery: "You miss my son?" "Yeah, like, I guess." "Don't, he was a dick. You know it and I know it. Want to marry my other son and be queen again?" "OMG YES! I mean, um, I don't know. I, like, totally haven't thought about it. Can I ask my dad?" "[Eye roll] Yeah, sure you do that. I'll talk to mine as well." "Cool. But when you marry my brother, will I call you mum or sis? LOL." "Hmm." And don't even get me started on Cersei's jokey chat with her pop, Tywin... "Don't worry, we'll give her and the boy king time to grieve for my sweet little purple one before they get hitched." "How long?" "Mmmm, two weeks?" "Yeah, that should do it." Obviously it's better when I do the voices, but you get the idea. This is dramadey gold.

Cameron McMillan (a Thrones trainspotter who can always be relied upon for up-to-date statistics and random factoids):
I'm not sure if it they have Mother's Day in Westeros but here are my rankings for top mums in the seven kingdoms:
1. Cersei Lannister: How can this be? The bitter, twisted and pure evil Cersei is all sweet and nice. Maybe the death of Joffrey has helped her see the light as she's making up for lost time and focussing on her good children. She's doing what all neglecting parents do - by making up for it with gifts. Shacking up her tween son with a hottie in her twenties, a freaken boat for her daughter's name day. Best mum ever!
2. Lysa Arryn: I think the Westerosian term is she's dragon-s*** crazy. To recap, she poisoned her former husband then quickly turned on her new husband by convincing herself that he slept with her niece. Quite shouty and screamy as well. She does have a sweet side but it only consists in the shape of lemon cakes. Can't fault her as a mum though - like Cercei you know she'll do anything for her son Robin.
3. Selyse Baratheon: We haven't seen the wife of Stannis that much so far, so hard to gauge her relationship with greyscale-faced daughter Shireen. But am I wrong to think a few weeks ago she said Shireen needs to be smacked? Does she not remember King Aerys II's anti-smacking bill?
4. Daenerys Targaryen: A working mother who despite being the CEO of a growing corporation, seems to have little time for her faster growing triplets.

Robert Smith (has read every book, watched every episode, owns several T-shirts, and possibly has a George RR Martin shrine in his bedroom):
Even after reading all the books, and even after digging deeply into the vast amount of online analysis of George R R Martin's epic story, the TV show still has plenty of unexpected thrills. Sometimes the series expands on parts of the books - as when they managed to make the Red Wedding even more horrible - sometimes it fills in backstory that is only hinted at in the novels, and sometimes it offers up all new scenes and plotlines entirely. This latest episode had examples of all three possibilities, and offers up plenty of those unforeseen pleasures, including Hodor's first great bad-ass moment and Brienne's silent respect for her unfortunate squire. The latest season - which is now halfway done - is burning through some of the book's plots with surprising speed, and some parts of the plot are differing wildly from the source material, but that just leaves more room for these character explorations and plot digressions, making this immense story all the richer.

Russell Baillie (may possibly be hate-watching the show, we're not entirely sure where his allegiances lie):
So far as I can tell this happened: Really not much huh? Yes a couple of bad guys finally bought it. The creepy fella from Torchwood got a sword through the head at the end. Noah Taylor's treacherous Locke was also done away with when young Bran Stark did his mind-meld thing and turned his big fella Hodor into ye olde Hulke.
That all happened as Jon Snow and his unmerry men took on the mutineers at Craster's Keep which led to Snow's eventual reunion with Ghost, his dire wolf who had just eaten one of his captors. Such a Lassie moment. No fraternal reunion between Bran and Jon though, as the young fellow and his mates are still on that psychic mission of his and didn't want to be dragged back to Castle Black.
But otherwise it was another episode of so much talk and very little story advancing or action. It was one that was padded out by checking in with various odd couples out in the wilds - The Hound and Ayra Stark bickered, Brienne and her unwanted squire Podrick bonded.
Meanwhile back at King's Landing, the late Joffrey's younger brother was crowned King Tommen, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and Defender of Kittens. His mum Cersei and his ex-sister-in-law-now-wife-to-be Margaery had a nice chat, discussing their respective forthcoming nuptials, the effect of which which should render the Lannister family tree more of an Escher diagram than it already is. But is was a relatively Lannister-free episode. That was save for Lord Tywin's lecture on why King's Landing is facing actual bankruptcy from lenders the Iron Bank to add to its moral one. So no more 77 course wedding banquets and dancing dwarfs please he asked Cersei.
But there was time to get reacquainted with another crazy clan. Lord Petyr Baelish arrived at the impenetrable castle The Eyrie with Sansa Stark where they were greeted by Lysa Arryn (Catelyn Stark's sister) and her son Robin, another potential psycho-kid.
He hasn't fallen far from the tree it seems - the loopy jealous Lysa insisted on marrying her apparently beloved Baelish (aka Littlefinger) on the spot so they could have shouty sex that night in a scene which was curiously audio-only possibly because by GoT's usual standards it was a bit boringly consensual.
Meanwhile Daenerys Targaryen and her chaps had a committee meeting where, despite having acquired the entire Meereeneese navy, she decided instead of invading King's Landing just yet, she'd better do something about the cities she'd already liberated which have gone right back to their old nasty ways.
Which may be the noble thing to do. But it's beginning to feel like those dragons of hers have blown the special effects budget in this storyline and they had better hold off on doing anything epic until the Iron Bank increases the overdraft limit or something.
So an instalment which got me thinking on ways to make even a boring GoT episode a little more interesting.
Clearly, drinking games aren't a good thing on Monday nights. So how about finding the best rock artwork reference? Last week, those White Walkers sure reminded me of Iron Maiden's Eddie. Last night's opening shot of the sentries at the Bloody Gate of Eyrie? Spitting image of the cover of the Wishbone Ash classic Argus I reckon. Well, if you squint a bit.

Chris Schulz (has watched every episode, is halfway through book one, and has a not-so-secret obsession with Brienne, the Maid of Tarth):
How, exactly, does it feel to have a sword come out the front of your face? Is there a moment when you look down, see the sleek metal sliding through the middle of your nose and think to yourself, 'Ah, crap'? If any show is going to make you wonder exactly what it's like to be impaled, it's Game of Thrones. Yes, the scene, in which Jon Snow dispatched vicious skull-drinking baddie Karl Tanner came at the end of an episode that was rather talky. Yes, I'm hoping Sansa gets thrown down that hole in the middle of the Vale of Arryn early on in next week's episode. And yep, I too am wondering how Podrick has lasted so long without learning how to barbeque a decent rabbit on an open fire. But despite the rather muddled, plot-ticking conversations that drained much of my enthusiasm for First of His Name, it still came with a shockingly bloody ending that means I'll be back for more.

Hayden Donnell (has memorised every word of every book and spends his evenings correcting historical inaccuracies on the Westeros Wikipedia page):
It seems like yesterday Daenerys was dracarys-ing slavers and crowd surfing her eunuch army through Slaver's Bay. Now she has to deal with all these screw ups from Astapor and Yunkai relinquishing their cities to the old masters and putting 'butcher kings' in charge. Politics. On the other side of the Narrow Sea, Sansa just wants to share some lemon tarts with her aunty. Then all of a sudden her hands are in a death grip and a jealous madwoman is telling her she has to marry her sickly cousin. Nothing is ever easy. That slap The Hound gave Arya when Needle bounced off his chainmail hit as hard as reality. You can't water dance your way through Slaver's Bay, The Vale or your seemingly aimless odd-couple road trip. If you're going to get what you want, you're going to need a big sword. Just ask Karl Tanner.

- nzherald.co.nz

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