‘Game of Thrones’ going strong into midseason

Pitchforks: 5/5

Four short weeks ago, hype surrounding the long awaited return of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was through the roof. Fans were anxiously waiting to see where the show would go following the traumatic and shocking events that concluded the third season. Fans of the books were waiting to see how the show-runners would handle split plot lines of the fourth and fifth books. Now, four weeks later with the season in full swing, HBO has done of the opposite of giving us a shortage of shocks and surprises. In addition, it’s laid a fair amount of ground for events that are surely on the horizon.

Before I go any further, I should note that I have not read the books; therefore, I have no idea how the events on the show compare to them, nor do I know what events lay in store beyond the point the show is at now (though I’ve heard from friends who have read the books that things are straying quite a bit). That being said, here are my thoughts on where I anticipate the season heading:

Although it got off to a bit of a slow start in the first episode, things were still quite interesting. Seeing Tywin Lannister deal with the events of the Red Wedding and plot to continue his allegiance with the Freys and the Boltons drove home the point that at this point in Westeros, it’s an awful time to be a Stark. We were quickly reminded of Tywin’s evil nature, however, when we not only saw him melting down Ned Stark’s sword and giving it to Jamie, but insisting that his son was no good due to his missing hand. Quick on the heels of that moment was King Joffrey’s scoffs about his uncle’s missing limb, quickly reminding viewers why he was so hated. Audiences were introduced to Oberyn Martell, a man visiting King’s landing to attend the Royal Wedding with an agenda of his own: to seek revenge against the Lannisters for the death of his sister. Sure, the episode was a lot of exposition and establishing, but it was a success nonetheless.

 

 

Episodes three and four gave audiences a sobering reminder that events at Castle Black are not nearly as peaceful as they have been. An attack from the wildlings is imminent, and to make matters worse, the White Walkers seem to be stirring more than ever. Meanwhile, Bran continues his trek for who-knows-what, dragging Hodor and the rest of their group along with him. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen continues to free the enslaves, growing an army that will surely give those at King’s Landing a run for their money.

The real shocker so far this season was in episode two at the royal wedding. Now dubbed the Purple Wedding, fans finally got to see King Joffrey get what was coming to him and revel in his murder. While it surely could not have come as a surprise that the character was killed off, I, for one, was shocked as to how early into the season it occurred.

That being said, I’m quite happy it occurred so early. Now that the king’s out of the way, things in Westeros are about to get a whole lot more interesting. And, with only six episodes left this season, things are going to head south quite quickly for the realm.

With Tyrion imprisoned and accused for the murder of the King, the Lannisters find a deep rift in the family. Cersei insists that her brother committed the murder while Jamie knows he’s innocent, young Tommen is set to take the throne and Tywin’s busy prosecuting Tyrion. Add to the mix Jamie’s bizarre rape of Cersei and the fact that Margaery Tyrell is still set on being queen (a quest which she’s already begun by attempting to seduce the new King).

Things are no better for Sansa Stark, who is on a boat bound for who-knows-where with Peter Baelish, the other half of the murder duo. None of the characters are trustworthy, but Baelish is by far the least trustworthy of the bunch. Things look dim for the oldest Stark girl.

As for the other Stark girl, Arya continues to trek through Westeros with the Hound, whose complete and utter selfishness and lack of morals continue to make him the most fascinating character on the show, as well as the biggest badass. I think in a round about way, he’s slowly becoming a mentor for Arya. While she currently refuses to accept the Hound’s actions or heed his advice that he’s simply doing what’s necessary to survive, I think as time goes on, she’ll slowly become more and more like him.

By the end of the season, I predict things at the Wall will be in shambles. Jon Snow can prepare the Knight’s Watch all he wants for an attack, but Hell Hath No Fury like Ygritte and her friends, especially the King Beyond the Wall. I have a feeling things will not fare well for the Watchers of the Wall and I’m highly anticipating the battle that’s bound to take place. On top of that, when it comes to the reunion of ex-lovers Jon and Ygritte, it’s obvious Ygritte’s still incredibly hurt by Jon’s betrayl. Seeing how things shake up between the two of them shall be most interesting indeed.

All in all, HBO has managed to cram an absolute ton of story into four short weeks, and with just a bit more than half of the season to go, there’s almost an excess of story lines to tie up, battles to show, and dare I say it, characters to kill off — all of which stems from one of the strongest half seasons in the show’s entire run.

Reach the reporter at seweinst@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @S_Weinstein95