On the hot crowns and boars of The Game of Thrones

Every episode of The Game of Thrones is a pivotal point in the tale. In this way, they’ve reflected the book well.

As long as the Song of Ice and Fire novels are, Martin rarely has a wasted scene. The world is always shifting, and every moment is a pivot upon which history turns and shapes.

There are no fights for the sake of fights. Every fight makes someone die or someone’s allegiance change, or someone swears revenge. There is no gratuitous sex. Every physical relation births a child, makes an enemy, or fuels a world-bending passion.

There are no gratuitous voices. Every conversation twists allegiances, changes important minds, or shows the readers the faces of the characters which will drive the story into its next pivot. Martin is one of the few fantasy authors today who follows the age-old advice that words should not be wasted.

Despite being a reader of the novels, and knowing what will happen next, I still hold my breath for the tense scenes, and worry at the characters for their mistakes and lies. I rail at the screen for the injustices dealt to the people I root for.

I have particularly enjoyed the scenes in The Eyrie. I’ve always been one to root for Tyrion, but Dinklage has made the character particularly relatable and sympathetic.

That, combined with the completely batty Lysa, who seems more crazy and despicable than she ever did in text, makes those scenes particularly memorable.

Littlefinger’s scenes are also enjoyable now. When we saw him for the first time in the series, I didn’t like his portrayal. I was confused how such a skilled actor could make him seem so wooden, but his performance since then, and especially in the most recent episode has redeemed him.

I see now what he’s doing with the character, playing him as a man with great internal pain, and a hard-won cardboard smile.

One scene I had been very interested to see was the “crowning” of Viserys. It’s a scene that was both very memorable for me, but also very difficult to visualize. I’m happy with the way it ran, and I think it did an excellent job setting up Daenerys for what is to come. The delivery of the final line in that scene finally erased all my doubts about Clarke’s ability to handle the role.

I’ve been trying to get opinions from folks who are following along on HBO, but who have not read the books, and I’m having trouble finding such people. The few I do find tell me mostly the same thing: They gave up on the show after the first half hour of the first episode, when they had no idea what was going on or why. I suppose I can see that. The first episode was a little rushed and light on names and motivations for the characters.

I hate to say things like “stick with it, it gets better” because I feel works should stand for themselves, but it is true in this case. You should, and it does. It’s an unfortunate fact that Pilots for television shows rarely reflect the quality and pacing of the rest of the series.

I can think of a dozen shows that had corny, poorly paced pilots, and masterful runs otherwise, and I can think of just as any which had promising pilots, and fell on their faces afterward. I always give a show at least two episodes before I really make up mind about watching more.