Dads Above The Lannister Line

At first I thought it was very poor judgment for HBO to show the last episode of this season of Game of Thrones on Father’s Day.  (WARNING:  Spoiler Alert!)

After all, what Dad wants to see another Dad shot through the gut by a crossbow quarrel?  Especially when the shooter is the Dad’s angry dwarf son?  And, even worse, when the Dad is taking a dump in a privy, and his son doesn’t even afford his father the courtesy of allowing him to pull up his breeches and assume a more dignified appearance before firing the fatal bolts, and then leaves his ol’ Dad to die there in stinking vapor?

Then I realized that HBO is savvier than I am.  It obviously realized that, initially, Dads might be troubled by seeing Tywin the Terrible impaled by his offspring while answering the call of nature . . . but they ultimately would compare themselves to the ex-Hand of the King and realize that they were doing a pretty good job in the fathering department by comparison.  After all, most of us aren’t ruthlessly murdered by our children.  We also don’t have children who engage in incestuous relations, we don’t have sex with our children’s paramours, we don’t decide that our children should be sentenced to death by beheading, and we haven’t ruined our children’s lives by having their wives held out as whores to our personal army.

So yes, maybe there is a method of HBO’s madness in broadcasting last night’s episode of Game of Thrones on Father’s Day.  Even the most fretful Dad, wondering about whether they are doing a good job of parenting, has got to feel pretty confident that they’ve easily surpassed the Lannister Line.

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A New Game To Enjoy

The Buckeyes’ loss to Wichita State still stings, but at least we’ve got a new Game to command our attention and analysis:  HBO’s Game of Thrones returns tonight.  You can see the extended trailer for Season Three here.

I’ve written before about Game of Thrones — both the HBO series and the epic-length books.  It’s a fantastic show, rich in themes and plots and production values, one that convincingly captures the curious medieval world where seasons can last for decades, dragons fly, and magic is real.  I’m looking forward to the return of characters that I love, and even more to the return of the awful characters that I love to hate.

I’ll relish reigniting my intense loathing for the detestable Joffrey Baratheon, the sadistic, cowardly punk who sits uneasily on the Iron Throne, and his duplicitous, manipulative mother Cersei.  I’ll be interested to see what happens to Jon Snow and the tiny yet hardy band of misfits and castoffs manning The Wall in the far north, working to meet the challenge of the wildlings and the White Walkers.   I’ll root for the honest, loyal Brienne of Tarth, the gigantic female knight who displays more knightly virtues than the men who ridicule her.  And I’ll enjoy becoming reacquainted with Arya, and Bran, and Tyrion, and the complex, interwoven storylines that characterize this series and meeting the new characters that will be introduced this season.

Having read the books, I suppose I could announce “spoilers,” but that’s not fair Game.  I’ll say only that big things, and terrible things, will be happening to the characters we’ve come to know.  Of course, loyal watchers of the show knew that already.  Any show that kills off its main character by public beheading before Season One even ends is not afraid to spin the world of Westeros on its axis.

Lost Magic, Due To Too Much Magic

Kish and I watched the Game of Thrones season finale and came away vaguely disappointed.  It was well-acted and interesting, as always, but vaguely anticlimactic after last week’s big battle — and also unsatisfying because the mystical and magical plot elements seem to be overpowering everything else.

I loved the first season of Game of Thrones because the characters were richly drawn and often highly flawed, the settings were exotic and fascinating, and the intrigue, infighting, and infamous villains made for riveting television.  There was some enchantment and sorcery — such as the mystical bond between the Starks and their wolves — but for the most part the story line focused on families and courtiers vying for power in the nest of vipers that is King’s Landing.  The deaths of leading characters, showing that no one was safe, made the show even more unpredictable and fun.

This year there’s much more magic, and in the finale there was a lot more magic.  There’s a witch who gives birth to black smoke creatures advising one pretender to the throne, a fireproof woman who can command dragons to burn her enemies, the undead marching on civilization, and a swordsman who can change his face.  I recognize that the characters live in a world where such things are more common, but frankly I find the magic kind of boring.  If a character can just command dragons to breathe fire on her enemies, who’s going to be able to stop her?  Where’s the suspense in that?

I’d prefer to see the focus be more on the characters who lack the knack for witchcraft, and who are therefore more vulnerable and interesting than the purveyors of the black arts.  I want to see more of the slippery but apparently decent eunuch who has the best interests of the kingdom at heart, mighty mite Tyrion Lannister, who to his own surprise discovered inner courage and cunning enough to save the kingdom from invasion, the giant female warrior who is devoted to Catelyn Stark, and the unconquerable Arya Stark — among others.  Let me see the nauseating and loathsome Joffrey Baratheon get his much-needed comeuppance by a sword thrust from a brawny arm, and not by the wave of a wizard’s wand.