Stars: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Emilia Clarke, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Ciaran Hinds, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Richard Madden, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, Diana Rigg, John Bradley, Jack Gleeson, Charles Dance, Rory McCann, Stephen Dillane, Carice Van Houten, Conleth Hill, Sibel Kekilli, Liam Cunningham, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie, Finn Jones, Julian Glover, Joe Dempsie, Nicholas Blane, Oona Chaplin, Rose Leslie, Jerome Flynn, James Cosmo, Ian McElhinnie, Thomas Sangster, Ellie Kendrick, Iwan Rheon, Noah Taylor, Daniel Portman, Robert Pugh, Nathalie Emmanuel
David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, series created by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”
David Benioff
HBO, Sundays @ 9 PM
April 14, 2013

There are a couple of stunning moments in the GAME OF THRONES episode “Walk of Punishment” – the finale is a shocker even for those who’ve read the books, as it smash-cuts directly from, well, a smash cut of Jaime Lannister’s (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) hand from his wrist to an electric guitar and drum-laden cover of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (a song that’s very popular among the common folk of Westeros, though this arrangement, by a band called The Hold Steady, would be new to them).

Jaime comes to this sad pass after he and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) are captured by Locke (Noah Taylor) and his men. Jaime is worth ransoming, but it looks like Brienne will be gang-raped, possibly to death, until Jaime speaks up and says she too has a wealthy father. This saves Brienne from violation and possible death. However, Locke thinks Jaime is a little too full of himself for someone whose power lies in his father’s money and his ability with (a currently unavailable) sword, and makes his point by severing Jaime’s sword hand. Cut to black, end of episode, blaring rock music, where are we, what’s happened? Wow. We are left breathless and disoriented, emphasized by a style of music that we’ve never before associated with GAME OF THRONES. This is a bit of daring by series co-creator David Benioff, who directed this episode, and it pays off handsomely.

In another startling moment, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), against the advice of Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) and Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney), agrees to trade the largest of her dragons for eight thousand Unsullied slave soldiers – and the scribe Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) – though the trade hasn’t yet taken place by episode’s end.

With help, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) escapes his captor/torturer Ramsay Snow and heads toward the protection of his sister.

Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hind) sends Jon Snow (Kit Harington) with a party of wildlings who are to take the Wall from the Night’s Watch. Meanwhile, the Night’s Watch who have survived the confrontation with the Others and the walking dead have taken refuge with the wildling Craster (Robert Pugh). Craster is the odious daughter-raping man who gives up his infant sons to the Others. His daughter Gilly (Hannah Murray), who previously begged Sam (John Bradley) for help when the Night’s Watch came through last time, is now giving birth – and the baby is a boy.

In Kings Landing, there is a scene that brings together Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Conleth Hill as Lord Varys, Aiden Gillen as Lord Baelish and Julian Glover as Maester Pycelle. If the scene took up an entire hour, it probably would still seem too short, as the characters and the actors are simply wonderful to witness. What transpires is that Baelish announces his intention to woo the widow Lyssa Arryn, thereby becoming Lord of the Vale and swinging Catelyn Stark’s sister to the Lannister side. With Baelish gone, somebody has to be the Master of Coin, and Tywin decides this job will go to Tyrion.

Going over the books left by Baelish, Tyrion discovers that the realm is deep in debt, which will be a problem if the Iron Bank of Braavos decides to fund the Lannister enemies. Meanwhile, though, Tyrion rewards his squire Podrick (Daniel Portman) for saving his life last season by buying the young man the services of several prostitutes simultaneously, thereby relieving him of his virginity. When Podrick returns, he still has the money – the ladies provided their services free of charge. Tyrion and his sellsword friend Bronn (Jerome Flynn) find the notion of prostitutes turning down pay by far the most fascinating issue of the day and demand details.

At Riverrun, Catelyn’s (Michelle Fairley) lord father has died. Robb (Richard Madden) is having trouble controlling his men, who tend to make wrongheaded battle decisions when left to their own devices.

There aren’t any dull moments here, but the episode positively sings when it’s in Kings Landing, with Jaime and Brienne and with the resolute, principled Daenerys. We actually care about a great many characters in the story by now, even some who are at lethal odds with one another and who have done things that initially seemed unforgivable – for example, we’re appalled when Jaime’s hand is cut off, even though at the series’ beginning, Jaime shoved young Bran off a tower (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in an attempt to kill him that crippled the boy. This is one canny, complex show that spins us around – and we can’t help loving it.

There are also beautiful little throwaway moments. When Arya (Maisie Williams) parts company with young baker Hot Pie, he gives her a bread that’s meant to be in the shape of a direwolf that looks more like a five-year-old’s attempt to make a dinosaur. Williams shows us that Arya is stunned and thinks it’s hilarious, while at the same time being as courteous as she can manage.

As always, there’s an enormous amount going on as we’re swept from icy vistas (with a gruesome spiral in the snow), to sun-baked ancient cities to deep green woodlands to royal chambers. We are reminded that there is an entire world linked by the events we’re watching, even none of the individual characters can know as much about it as we do. It’s a glorious GAME – may it play forever.


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Article Source: Assignment X
: TV Review: GAME OF THRONES – Season 2 – “Walk of Punishment”

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