Game of Thrones
Commentary on “The Kingsroad”

Greg Tito | 25 Apr 2011 17:00
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That doesn't mean all the information is being absorbed. One detail that I think my wife missed was that SER JORAH MORMONT, now traveling with Daenerys Targaryen through the Dothraki Sea, says he was banished from the land by the same Eddard Stark now on his way to be the Hand of the King. The connection is a tiny one, but sometimes subtlety can be lost amongst so many other details. I dread the moment when my wife asks me who Mormont is again, or what he's doing with these horse people anyway, and I start listing his family history and what happens to his House.

My wife didn't need to be told that KHAL DROGO is an insensitive lover. The camera might have lingered a little too long on him taking his new wife from behind, and the obvious displeasure she feels at such mistreatment is uncomfortable to watch. But we are soon introduced to the handmaidens of Daenerys, one of whom teaches her the ways of sex. Witnessing the young girl confront her monstrous husband by wishing to look on his face during coitus, and Drogo's apparent excitement at such a prospect, didn't really make up for his previous transgressions. My mother-in-law scoffed at the couple now happily screwing face-to-face, "What, are they going to love each other now?"

This is one part of the adaptation that still doesn't really feel accurate to me. It is important that Daenerys become emboldened by her relationship with Drogo - she grows into a more independent woman based in part on being a good wife ... in bed - but I just don't think the motivations match up with how I interpreted the book. Daenerys asks her handmaiden to teach her so that she can pleasure her husband better, not so that he stops raping her. I hope the writers are playing up Daenerys' vulnerability so that her coming-of-age story is more adequately realized, otherwise she may just come off as weak.

The greatest characters to emerge in this episode were the direwolves. We saw where they came from, suckling from their dead mother, but their true power is shown for the first time in "The Kingsroad." Again, I commend the writers for showing the special intelligence and loyalty of these creatures without explicitly stating it for the audience. Nymeria obeys ARYA's commands when she's packing, as does Lady when Sansa tells her to stay. And Summer (even though he's not named in the show) viciously defends Bran by ripping out the throat of the boy's would-be assassin. The contrast of gore of the killer's blood oozing out with the obvious warmth the direwolf feels for his young master was masterfully accomplished. After that scene, my wife blurted out, "This show is just well-made." I couldn't agree more.

After watching the final scene where Eddard Stark must take Lady's life at the order of his friend and King, I considered the symbolism of the wolves for the Stark family. The sigil of House Stark is the direwolf, which is partly why Ned kept the beasts, but he and his girls are leaving the North to go to the dangerously unfamiliar intrigues of the capital city. The Starks will be out of their element. Sansa and Arya sought to bring their wolves with them, but at the conclusion of "The Kingsroad" both are gone - Lady executed and Nymeria chased away. The Starks cannot take the North with them to King's Landing and the wolves can no longer provide protection like Summer did for Bran.

From the first glimpse of THE WALL to the great closing moment of Bran opening his eyes, the action of this episode more firmly established the setting of WESTEROS in the minds of a new audience. My wife remarked that the second hour was a lot easier to follow than the first, which proved to me that the details presented did a better job than I expected building upon that which was already shown. I resisted quizzing my wife and her mother on what they thought about the KING and Ned Stark, or who they think Jon Snow's mother is, or who sent the killer after Bran, because I didn't trust myself not to give anything away. My hope is that discovering the truth of these threads will be just as enjoyable for them while watching the show as it was for me when I first read the A Game of Thrones.

Greg Tito can't stand even looking at Joffrey's face - it must be the terrible haircut.

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