Jun 13, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 9 - Baelor

Episode 9 is the penultimate chapter in the first season of Game of Thrones, and it really does feel like the threshold to the ending. Dealing mainly with the battle between Robb Stark and the Lannisters in the North, Baelor has a magnificent scene between Tyrion, Bronn and the newly introduced Shae (Sibel Kekilli) which doesn't feature in the book, but serves to build all three characters to a degree I have rarely seen achieved in a single scene. Shae herself seems to me vastly different from her original literary form, and I was originally put off by her face, but after the aforementioned scene Kekilli seems more than appropriate for this new image.

Another great addition to the cast is David Bradley as the old Lord Walder Frey, guardian of the Twins at the crossing of the Trident. True, the actor is quite a lot younger than the character is supposed to be, but he has such a strong aura of Mean Old Man that he is just perfect for the role.

The episode also brings Daenerys' line to its final stage. Drogo's sickness isn't properly explained though, and for someone who hasn't read the book, the impression would be that Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou) either failed to heal him with her poultice, or intentionally poisoned him. Other than that, the Dothraki scenes are magnificent and emotionally charged, and I can't wait to see the season finale with Daenerys.

If I have a complaint, that would be the incredibly cheap way in which HBO avoided the budget issue with the battle between Robb's and Tywin Lannister's troops. I don't want to spoil it, but it is almost comical.

Other than that though, Baelor is a gorgeous episode, easily among the best in the season. With more than a few dramatic moments - the long awaited ending scene included - it smoothly guides us into the season finale next week. If Fire and Blood can keep that quality up, the first season of Game of Thrones will have been arguably the best fantasy ever to appear on the TV screen.

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