TV Review: Game of Thrones, S01E05 – The Wolf and the Lion

Show: Game of Thrones
Channel: HBO
Episode: S01E05 – The Wolf and the Lion
Original Air Date: 15 May 2011
Spoiler Warning: Active for show and books

Subtlety was not the primary concern of this episode.

And I’m kind of okay with that.

For an episode that’s a lot of conversation, it’s also a lot of in-your-face things happening. Mind, this series hasn’t ever shied away from showing us the gory bits, or the sexy bits, but in this episode, the visuals are joined by a lot of verbal, character-driven bald-facedness. The funny thing is, for an episode where everyone’s talking about backstabbing, deceit, and sinister dealings, what the audience actually sees is a lot of people being themselves, just as they are.

Let’s take Lysa Tully, for example. In the book, you’ve got a chapter or two, as I recall, to see just how much she’s cracked. You know she is, as Tyrion puts it, a bit touched, but it isn’t until the end of the conversation, when she whips her tit out for her six-year-old son to feast from, that you really see just how deluded she is. In the show, they open with that. No easing into it at all, just bam! Crazy mother and bloodthirsty brat. I love how you can see, so clearly, on Catelyn’s face, that she realises she’s made a pretty severe error in judgment. Then, of course, poor Tyrion (who can never hide what he is, and so doesn’t bother to hide much else) gets thrown into a sky cell, where, as the books tell us, a prisoner is left open to the scrutiny of the gods.

Then there’s Renly and Loras. In the world, of course, they’re hiding what they are. To the audience, it’s right out there – far more explicit than in the books, where it was always rather coy and shy. (In case I haven’t said it before, bless HBO and their equal opportunity nudity. Between Theon, who I hate as a character but cannot help but drool over as a body, and then these two, it was a good episode for those of us who favour menfolk). I like that Loras is more, well, badass than he comes off in the books. A little more snarky, a little more unflinching. It somehow makes him seem more appropriately Tyrell. Here, enjoy a gif that I shamelessly stole from this awesome chick.

Renly/Loras

And for another, less-happy couple, Robert and Cersei, bluntly honest with each other about their miserably failed marriage. They know what they are and what their marriage has done for the kingdom, good or ill. Perhaps for the first time in their marriage, however, they admit some things, answer some questions, stare certain untruths in the face.

These little revelations trail through the rest of the episode, through other characters, as well: Gregor Clegane sure doesn’t hide the fact that he’s vicious and crazy. Varys comes clean with Ned (more or less), and even he and Littlefinger, squaring off, lay a few cards out on the table. Then there’s Arya, who refuses to be anything other than as she is, to the point where it’s now obscuring who she’s “supposed” to be. Watching her dress down two goldcloaks was just entirely too entertaining. And when Jaime Lannister, never a man for subtlety or subterfuge, challenges Ned, and we see both Jaime’s true concern for his family and his own brand of honour.

I missed Jon, Dany, and the rest at the Wall and in Vaes Dothrak in this episode, but I understand leaving them out, and I expect we’ll get plenty of both in Episode 6. Their stories have quite different themes from this one, so I think they would’ve been discordant notes in what’s otherwise a nicely flowing hour of television.

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