May 9, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 4 - Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

After the introduction to the world and characters in the first three episodes, Episode 4 takes time to fill in some of the back-story for some of them. Dealing mostly with the intrigues in King's Langing and Ned Stark's search for the truth behind Jon Aryn's death, it is filled with what in a lesser show would be shameless infodumps. Despite that, Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things still somehow manages to move the story more than the previous one did, as well as introduce a few new characters.

The most interesting part of the episode is of course the background. We learn more about the Greyjoys and why Theon serves in Winterfell. Also, with the introduction of Gregor Clegane (Conan Stevens) we're told the sad story of his younger brother Sandor (Rory McCann). Personally, I was a bit disappointed with that particular tale, as it is Littlefinger that tells it to Sansa, instead of the Hound himself, as part of a bonding that might now never come to be. The names of dragons are also thrown around by a slumming Viserys in a new scene that doesn't feature in the book, while the screenwriters finally deign to give us a tease of the three-eyed crow of Bran's dreams that was supposed to make an appearance as early as Episode 2.

Last but not least is Sam Tarly (John Bradley). At first I was taken aback with the actor's looks as they did nothing to impress on me the image of an intelligent and sensitive lad not cut for warfare, as his character is described in the book. Bradley however quickly manages to get around his less than intellectual appearance and Sam Tarly promises to be one of the funniest characters in the show.

My favorite character for the episode is definitely Catelyn. Michelle Fairlay might seem a tad older than most of us would like, but she has the airs of a highborn lady and her mere presence commands obedience in a way that Lena Headey's poor queen Cersei couldn't even dream of achieving. Other than that, Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is still the best character in the show, in turns coldly sarcastic and haughtily decent. For those of us who have read the novel, he is so much Tyrion that it's almost inhuman!

Sadly, the Daenerys storyline is yet to be given the time it deserves to develop properly. I am hoping that the next six episodes will spare her more than a passing minute or two because the way things are now, I can't see anyone who hasn't read the book caring about what's going on on that continent.

All in all, Episode 4 is keeping with the tendency of each episode being better than the previous one. With a cliffhanger ending that literally made me squeal with joy, it sets the stage for the buckets of horribleness that are about to start pouring over everybody's head. I can barely wait for The Wolf and The Lion!

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