Entertaining Platt: Game of Thrones Season 2 – “Blackwater”

May 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

“She ran calling ‘Wiiiiiildfire!'”

My favorite sequence in the Song of Ice and Fire novels so far has been the Battle of Blackwater Bay. With some trepidation, I’ve waited to see how it would make the transition to TV in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

It delivered.

In this episode, written by George R.R. Martin himself, everything was focused with laser precision on the events surrounding Stannis Baratheon’s invasion of King’s Landing. No visits to the north to see how Robb Stark’s army is faring. No scenes about Danaerys in Qarth. Nothing beyond the Wall about Jon Snow.

Instead, we got a taut showdown that – all apologies to Peter Jackson – put the Helm’s Deep battle in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to shame.

Everything since the death of Robert Baratheon in the first season has been building to this, and even if it doesn’t quite perfectly reflect how the battle unfolds in the novels, it provides a gripping hour of television that includes:

* Epic moments for everybody: From Tyrion’s troop-rallying speech (“Brave men are knocking on our door. Let’s go kill them!”) to Bronn’s explosive arrow lob to Cersei’s wine-tinged rants about gods and war to the Hound’s indignant defiance of his craven king to Tywin’s well-timed arrival.
* More outstanding exchanges between Tyrion and Varys (“I’m entirely sure you’re entirely sure you know what I’m saying”) and Tyrion and Bronn (“Just because I pay you doesn’t diminish our friendship.”).
* Some great tension, from the dramatic turns inside the Red Keep as Cersei awaits the outcome of the battle to the horrors of war unfolding before the walls of King’s Landing.
* Apparently, a huge chunk of this season’s special effects budget, because – damn, people, they spared no expense with Tyrion’s bright green nuke roiling across the surface of the Blackwater.

No wasted seconds, from beginning to end. Well done, show. One more to go for this season, and then…well, damn it, we have to wait and see what they deliver next year.

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