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TV Review: Game of Thrones – “Fire and Blood”

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HBO’s Game of Thrones does little to tie up loose ends in the first season finale, “Fire and Blood.” In the wake of the execution of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), Ned’s son Robb (Richard Madden) mobilizes the Northern armies to march against King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Soon, Robb has captured Joffrey’s uncle (and biological father), Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and his men are calling for Robb to be king. But Joffrey is not without leverage. He still holds Robb’s sister, Sansa (Sophie Turner), in his castle, and no one knows that younger sister, Arya (Maisie Williams), has escaped King’s Landing. Arya is on her way to The Wall. Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), head of the Lannister clan, is smart enough to know Joffrey is treading a wrong path, and sends Joffrey’s uncle, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), to guide the boy King. Across the sea, the wild card, the Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), assumes her place as Dragon’s Daughter, birthing three of the little lizards as her beloved husband’s corpse burns.

Joffrey is a spoiled little brat, and is causing much of the civil strife within his kingdom. Ned is willing to falsely confess to treason to keep the peace and allow Joffrey to save face, and yet Joffrey has this powerful, polarizing figure killed anyway, against almost everyone’s wishes. The only motivating factor to such a decision can be ego, and ego will never serve a ruler. Absolute power corrupts, and with Joffrey, this is happening very early in his ascent. Joffrey should listen to those older and wiser than himself, such as manipulative mother Cersei (Lena Headey), because with the way he is going, he is not likely to sit on the Iron Throne all that long. She may not be the kindest voice out there, but at least she’s intelligent.

This is not a time to have strife within the Game of Thrones kingdom. They need to pull together. Daenerys is massing power to try to take the Iron Throne, which she believes to be her rightful inheritance. Who knows what is massing beyond The Wall to the North, but it looks unlikely it will still hidden away for very much longer. At such a time, Winterfell should be united with King’s Landing for their mutual protection and survival. This will not happen as long as Joffrey sits on the throne, because he has thoroughly alienated the civilized people of the North. No mere apology will make up for killing Ned. And if the two groups cannot ally, it leaves them ripe for conquering from their enemies across the sea or behind The Wall.

Sansa is still engaged to Joffrey. Should Joffrey force her to marry him, and after watching the king behead her father, Sansa will have to be forced, it will do nothing to heal the rift Joffrey has created. If anything, it will enrage the Northerners more, as they may attack in an effort to rescue her. The best thing Joffrey can do at this point is to give Sana safe passage home, but of course, he will not. It would offend his self-worth, and make him seem weak in his own eyes. Giving up his bride is a failure, even if Sansa is not the bride Joffrey wants. In this instance, he is willing to go along with his mother, proving she has not lost all sway over her insolent son. Should Cersei chose to push this influence, it can only be bad for Sansa.

Will Tyrion be able to heel Joffrey? Tywin certainly hopes so. By placing faith in his dwarf son, Tyrion’s confidence and determination to do a good job is likely increased exponentially, as he always craves acceptance from his father. It’s hard to know what kind of leader Tyrion may turn out to be. He’s very practical, and will not push Joffrey enough to lose his own head. Tyrion acts mostly in self-interest, but is not without compassion. He is bringing a whore to court, against Tywin’s will, so Tyrion demonstrates he can buck authority when it strikes him right. Though a member of the “evil” family of the series, Tyrion manages the incredibly feat of staying likeable. It will be interesting to see what effect Tyrion has on King’s Landing.

Daenerys, who begins Game of Thrones as a meek, subservient girl, comes into her own as a powerful female ruler in a spectacular way. It’s been wonderful to see her grow. Braving fire to hatch the dragons, she establishes herself as a genuine threat to Joffrey. Is she a hero or a villain? Her claims to the Iron Throne are through bloodline. Perhaps viewers can root for her to take it back, even if they are already on the side of Winterfell. Or can Daenerys make a treaty with the Northerners? That depends on how she plans on treating her subjects, which is less than clear thus far, as while she is Khaleesi, most of her actions revolve around her husband, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), who is now dead. Plus, this turn of events ensures cool dragon flight scenes for season two!

Lastly, will Arya stay at The Wall when she arrives there? Her half brother, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), is stationed there, so she has a friend and ally. But Jon rides North of The Wall with the other men, and may not be present when she arrives, which would be unfortunate. It would be nice if he can return, at least before Arya takes the oath and has to spend all her days defending the Kingdom in the cold fort alongside her bastard brother. On the other hand, perhaps Arya is suited to such a life. She is a girl, but she shows passion and aptitude for combat, as well as a desire to be treated like on of the boys. This is her chance. Assuming they don’t turn her out as soon as they discover she is not male, which is bound to happen eventually.

Game of Thrones will return for season two, likely in the spring of 2012.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Gerry

    Nice review, Jerome, I really enjoyed this series–it was new to me, I haven’t read the books. I strongly suspect events will conspire so Arya doesn’t end up at the Wall–she’ll be some kind of wild card, I think. Can’t wait for GoT to come back!