Note: I apologize for how late this review is. Technical difficulties, we’ll call it.
As the second season carries on, “Game of Thrones” is showing us that every character is susceptible to the same plight: the roadblock. While it can be said that every episode shows characters hitting a wall, I think the latest episode, “The Old Gods and the New,” showcases that fact.
Joffrey screws up, again, and has hit a proverbial wall that separates him from his constituents. Tyrion hits a wall with trying to get through Joffrey. Jon gets separated from his party, and the only guide/companion he has now is a Wildling whom he’s not sure if he can trust. Robb and Catelyn Stark learn about Theon Greyjoy’s betrayal. And, of course, Daenerys has lost her dragons.
Sigh. Nothing is going right for anyone, and they all know it. Some characters, though, simply bring it upon themselves.
Joffrey, for instance. He’s a little jerk and doesn’t know what it means to be a ruler. He’s spoiled and cruel, and thinks being king is all about the power and, thus, forgets about the responsibility. So when the people of his kingdom ambush him and his family as they parade through the streets, I can’t help but think, “You’re getting what’s coming to you, little king.”
Tyrion, of course, plays the diplomat and well-meaning uncle. Though he’s harsh with Joffrey, Tyrion has Joff’s best interests at heart, and it’s Joffrey’s fault that he doesn’t see his best interest is his people and the kingdom he reigns over.
Daenerys also brought her problems upon herself, though it’s much more forgivable when compared to Joffrey. Dany doesn’t know any better. Just look at who she learned things from: her crazy brother who shouted commands and whined when they weren’t met, and her dominating force of a husband, who just took what he wanted. Dany isn’t in any position to do either, but she acts like she is because she can’t be harmed by fire and because she’s the Mother of Dragons. But, whoops, Dany forgets her dragons are babies at this point and can’t defend themselves anymore than Dany can defend herself. It’s no surprise she returns to her apartment to find her entourage destroyed and her dragons missing. She’s learning the hard way about diplomacy, choosing her battles and about who to make privy on her cargo.
Arya almost put herself in two tough spots this episode, the first being when Littlefinger arrived to meet with Tywin Lannister, and the second being when she almost got caught stealing letters from Tywin. But Arya has traits Joffrey and Dany don’t: She’s cunning, smart and thinks outside the box. Even when she didn’t have to, even when life was cushy for her as a lord’s daughter, Arya still found her way out of messes. Now, without the protective umbrella of her family hovering over her, she’s learning how to apply those tricks to bigger issues.
Without a doubt, though, my favorite scene was when the Hound rescued Sansa as she was about to be raped. The Hound is pure dominance: He just shows up, murders those looking to harm her and carries her off. He’s like one ugly knight in (black) armor. But his rough exterior covers a soft interior. The Hound is one of those characters you hate to hate, and you only hate him because he’s bound to the Lannisters and that prick of a king, Joffrey. He makes up for his transgressions, though, and we haven’t seen the end of his good deeds.
The punk band Trial By Fire put it well: “No one is safe when there’s money to be made,” and if you substitute “money” for “power,” then the saying applies to everyone who still has their hand in the game of thrones. Some people are just smarter players than others.