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Review #3524: Game of Thrones 2.8: “The Prince of Winterfell”

Posted on the 22 May 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

It’s all been leading up to something. Last season ended with a violent regime change and the outbreak of war. Season 2 has delivered a similar slow boil approach, likely saving the most dramatic events for the final two episodes of the season. So here we are, in the calm before the storm. But what form will that storm take? Will it be the climactic siege of King’s Landing that I’m so eagerly hoping for? Or will the final two episodes unveil something far more unexpected? Perhaps both?

Review #3524: Game of Thrones 2.8: “The Prince of Winterfell”

Personally, I think that the most interesting outcome would be another regime change. I want to see what would happen if Stannis took his place on the Iron Throne. I’m sure most viewers are ready to see Joffrey get his comeuppance, anyway. I’d love to see Varys, Tyrion, Cersei, and Petyr all stuck trying to survive in the new court (assuming that they don’t simply escape or get executed outright). And all the while, Melisandre is whispering words into Stannis’s ear, using him to enact the will of the Lord of Light.

The fact that we were given a scene of Stannis appointing Davos as his future hand seems like a strong hint that this is where the show is going. (SIDE NOTE: Nice to see Davos happening upon the same piece of wisdom that Tyrion gave to Jon back in the first episode of the show.) Even if the city can survive the impending onslaught and start to turn the tide of battle in its favor, I’d expect some kind of supernatural intervention to turn things back in Stannis’ favor. The Lord of Light really seems to want Stannis to take the throne. Maybe the idea is to take control and prepare for the clash with the White Walkers? Fire and Ice, after all. Maybe it’s in everyone’s best interests to let Stannis be King.

It was great to hear that Varys really does have at least one spy in Qarth. I love how he and Tyrion casually chat about everything from tit gods to the inevitable return of dragons to Westeros, and then go back to discussing the problem at hand. This alliance between Tyrion and Varys may not last, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. It’s not surprising that the two of them get along so well. I’ve always found unexpected alliances to be more fun than unexpected treachery. There’s nothing quite like seeing two former rivals/enemies forced to work together to take down a common foe. I’m also still loving the interaction between Tyrion and Bronn. The sellsword’s comments were simply priceless. I’d be very disappointed if Bronn didn’t survive into the next season.

Theon’s treachery is looking more and more likely to be the death of him. There’s just no obvious way out of the situation he’s gotten himself into. His people don’t even care that he took Winterfell, because they don’t even want it. And now it’s only a matter of time before everyone in the North arrives and completely decimates Theon’s pitifully small forces and captures him. Theon’s just not smart enough to survive very long in “Game of Thrones”. His gamble to earn the respect of his people is failing to have the intended effect, reducing him to a reviled lunatic left with nowhere to hide. Even the fact that he didn’t really kill Bran and Rickon (which can’t have come as a surprise to anyone) is unlikely to help his situation. So long, Theon Greyjoy.

The future is a bit more open for our two outcasts in opposite corners of the world. Jorah has managed to find a ship, so now it’s only a matter of getting those dragons out of the House of the Undying. I have no idea what horrors await in that place, but I’m sure that getting in and out of there is easier said than done. Still, it seems clear that Dany will soon be headed for Westeros just in time for the next season. I suspect that Jon will probably be stuck north of The Wall for a while longer, though. Poor Qhorin Halfhand probably isn’t long for this world (which is unfortunate, because I like the character better than Jon), but Jon is likely going to spend some time getting to know the Wildlings and having further encounters with White Walkers. That Ygritte romance subplot has only just begun.

Arya and her friends could end up pretty much anywhere. But I suppose it would make sense for them to reach Robb’s camp in time to warn them about the impending attack. I like this little band, comprised of Arya, Gendry, Hot Pie, and the every-mysterious and deadly Jaqen H’ghar. I’d like it if they stuck together, for the most part, during the next season. Arya needs more time away from home to develop into whoever it is that she’s becoming. Speaking of which, very clever of Arya to use Jaqen’s code of honor to turn him into the ultimate escape weapon, effectively wringing more kills out of him than he’d originally promised. It’s not a very good way to build a friendship, but I think that Jaqen will get over it. Jaqen seemed more superhuman than ever. How on Earth did he manage to do that to all those guards?

I mentioned that I enjoy unexpected alliances, right? Sticking Brienne reluctantly with Jaime was an inspired story choice. Brienne exemplifies the old-fashioned values of knighthood, and Jaime has become so jaded that he sees it all as just a big, hilarious joke. It seems like you couldn’t have found two more contrasting personalities, although they may have more in common than either of them think. Brienne and Jaime are likely to be around for the long haul, so there’s a good chance that we’ll get to see these two stuck with each other well into the next season. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

There was never any doubt where things were going with Robb and Talisa. Robb even gets a chance to tell Talisa about his unfortunate betrothal, maybe hoping that it will keep her at a distance. But Talisa ends up alone with Robb and ends up telling him the story of how she went from being a highborn Lady to being a battlefield nurse, upping the attraction factor by about a hundred. You can guess what happens next. Of course, there’s no way that this won’t end in misery. The same could be said for Tyrion’s romance with Shae. Whenever things start to seem “too good to be true” on this show, then it’s a pretty good bet that something will come along to ruin everything before too long.

Tyrion has a better chance of protecting Shae, because he’s painfully aware that she’s his biggest weakness. But I still get the sense that it’s just not going to be enough. It was hilarious fun seeing Cersei so gleeful about thinking that she’d finally bested Tyrion at his own game, and seeing Tyrion let her believe that she had. But that was still a stern reminder that Shae is in danger. And by the way, was that Ros who Cersei had mistaken for Tyrion’s beloved whore? It would figure. She always seems to get into trouble. You’d think that Tyrion would, given his history with her, at least try to make some effort to secure her safety. Then again, if it’s a choice between Ros and Shae, he’s probably going with Shae.

“The Prince of Winterfell” is another strong episode, but one that is surprisingly low-key for being so late in the season. This season never really developed that sense of escalating, building momentum that the first season did as it approached its final episodes, but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been an enjoyable season. I’d have a difficult time comparing the quality of the two seasons until this one is over and done with, but I certainly wouldn’t call the current one a disappointment. I wouldn’t say that it’s surpassed the first season either, though. I suspect that the last two episodes will be similar, in some regards, to the last two episodes of the previous season, in that the first of the two will represent the real climax, while the second one deals with the fallout and transitions things into the next season.

Rating: 8/10

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