If you’re looking for a gimlet-eyed look of the season opener… Sorry! Can’t help you. I thought it was flawless. Loved every second. Beamed at the TV from the opening title sequence (New! Improved! With Dragonstone) to the “coming next week” tease.
Clearly, I’m besotted. It’s a compliment to the GoT cast, crew, and creative, but not good for critical analysis. (New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger did have a discouraging word about the start of Season Two last week, but I dismissed it. He has genre issues.) To get a more nuanced view of the show than I (or Neil) could discern, I checked out several (ok, dozens) of recaps and reviews from around the web. Here’s what I found.
BEST PRACTICES? There seemed to be a standard opener for many of the reviews I read: Game of Thrones is back, “with more boobs, more blood, more dragons and more clandestine machinations behind closed doors.” (HuffingtonPost.com). Game of Thrones is back, and “kicked off its second season with bloodshed, power struggles and struggles with power already obtained.” (WashingtonPost.com) Game of Thrones is back, “with new episodes to satisfy that craving for medieval soft porn and Realpolitik you didn’t even know you had until….last spring?” (NJ.com). This last review, in my opinion, wins…
BEST SCENE-BY-SCENE RECAP: It’s cheeky, quote-filled, and packed with details. (If you’re a slow reader, it also reads in real time.) It also gets credit for Most Reasonable Prediction: “Tyrion warns [Shae] to trust no one in the city—in a way that makes me think she’s going to do exactly that, and suffer for it—but mostly they’re just enjoying each other’s company. I’m calling it now—Shae’s doomed. No one on this show is allowed to be that happy.”
MOST THOUGHTFUL RECAPS: It must be annoying to hear dark mutterings and warnings of spoilers ahead from fans who know every verse and chorus of “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The A.V. Club offers recaps for people who have read the books and those who haven’t.
BEST GUARDIAN OF THE SACRED TEXTS: Given that I went through the books like a bag of Bugles (greedily, and none too thoughtfully), I appreciated David Barr Kirtley’s 7 Key Ways Game of Thrones Deviates From George R.R. Martin’s Novels. Because I didn’t realize as it was happening that my favorite scene from the premier was, in fact, not from the books. Which brings us to…
BEST CLASH OF CRITICS: I thought the Littlefinger-Cersei scene was brilliant. (Recap: Littlefinger lets Cersei know he knows her secret. “Knowledge is power,” he says. In a heartbeat, she has him surrounded by guards, swords drawn. “Power is power,” she says. Good one, Cersei!) In the cold light of day, however, the scene was more entertaining than it was brilliant. The critics at Wired.com and Los Angeles Times agree it didn’t make sense, though they differ on who was the bigger dumbass in the exchange:
“Granted, Cersei in the books doesn’t always show the best judgment, but openly threatening the life of one of the most powerful men in Westeros for no apparent reason seems like a boneheaded move, even for her.” —Wired.com
“Littlefinger is nothing if not a consummate politician… It seems unlikely that he would do something as impolitic and ill-considered as needling one of the most dangerous people in the kingdom for no reason.” —Los Angeles Times
WHAT SAY YOU? Who wins the recap crown? There are reviews coming up hourly, it seems, and every time I poke around the internet, I see more. If you have a favorite site or blogger, I’d love to hear about it.