Game of Thrones restored to former glory

MAN MOUNTAIN: Condemned dwarf Tyrion must find a champion to defeat the 'freakish big, freakish strong' Gregor Clegain.
MAN MOUNTAIN: Condemned dwarf Tyrion must find a champion to defeat the 'freakish big, freakish strong' Gregor Clegain.

Sex, violence, dynamite dialogue and some unexpected curveballs impress bloggers Kate and Jonathan this week as Game of Thrones picks up a gear and is restored to its former glory.

Dearest Kate.

This episode has a sense of setting up for the last few to come -moving the pawns around a chessboard. Call it a "placeholder" episode if you will. Tellingly, the scenes with the Hound and Arya got to the heart of the issue.

We start with the two in a particularly bleak hamlet, crouched over a dying man. "That's not going to get better... haven't you had enough?" the Hound asks the wounded soul, reflecting the dark mood that seems
to prevail over Westeros. I felt the three were talking not just about their predicament, but about the season in general.

Just as we had this sort of reflective turn, out of nowhere  two bandits, old acquaintances of Arya's, pop up; one takes a chunk out of the Hound before dying, the other gets stuck through with Arya's cute sword. This unexpected series of events was all over the episode; quiet introspection and then some of the best scenes in the season so far - albeit pretty violent.

Sometimes Game of Thrones is best when it throws these unexpected curveballs into the mix, like Gregor's reintroduction amidst the corpses of four disembowelled convicts. I felt that, at the very least, it's going to be a fantastic, if terrifying, battle next episode.

There was an unexpected lightness in these 30 seconds seeing this brutish giant hacking away at his foes compared with the rest of the episode. It is impressive what the directors can do with some carefully placed low shots, lots of fake intestines and this great hulking presence. "He's freakish big, and freakish strong" Bronn tells Tyrion while letting him down softly.

After last week's upset with his whore, it seemed pretty inevitable that Tyrion's closest companion, Bronn, would abandon him. I guess he is just joining the queue. Tyrion seemed to be a lost case, but then some chivalry, vouched under the terms of avenging his dead sister, comes in the form of everyone's favourite Dornish man.

Also notable was the altogether charming scene with Jaime and Tyrion, which exuded the strongest on-screen chemistry of any of the characters.

Talking about chemistry, Daenerys and Daario's relationship was heating up. But, it is rare that Game of Thrones shows as much restraint as it did with this scene. It's been a while since we have seen some "sexposition", but the two scenes with Melisandre and Daenerys showed that the writers are keen to explore different ways to get across key plot points.

I felt like I was in Gender 101 again with the novelty of Daenerys as a fully clothed female character in a position of power doing all the seducing and objectifying of her male counterpart. It seemed to me a necessary rebalancing of the sexes in the show.

And then Melisandre, I feel her having a bath was some sort of attempt to make that scene with Stannis's wife more compelling, but there didn't seem to be any reason for her topless attire aside from the fact that this is the Game of Thrones, after all.

 - Jonathan

Kia ora Jonathan,

What way to finish. Off and out the moon door goes the crazed aunt Lysa - her beloved casting her off into the depths. The crazies are really getting dealt to this season and it makes for some great watching.

This week's episode sits as my favourite along with Joffrey's wedding. It wasn't the suspense and overtones of that event, but the character development that got me.

We delved into the far casting shadows of childhood and the nuanced themes coupled with tight scenes pulled the series back to its former glory.

We see new layers in key characters and what has shaped them. The Hound is haunted by the ghost of his brother's fiery anger and his father's failure to protect and avenge him.

Sansa builds Winterfell into the snow, the place of her childhood and a bygone era. Her snotty little cousin's behaviour resembles aspect of that other now dead snivelling brat Joffrey, but she has come of age and slaps him back into line when he smashes her nostalgic moment.

Baelish and Lysa play out their childhood love and jealousy of Catelyn Stark on her red-headed offspring.

Oberyn takes us back to the time of Tyrion's birth from which the monster shadow has followed him since as has Cersei's hate and we get a deeper look into what drives Oberyn's desire for vengeance against the beast Gregor.

While so often it seems the power players are stealthily moving pieces across the chessboard in a scramble for power, gold, and glory, perhaps so much more is driven by the most basic of human emotions; love,
jealously, belonging.

And it is these emotional responses that keep the show dynamic as was revealed in Baelish's confession for killing Joffrey - it wasn't for power, but revenge for the murder of his unrequited love.

The dialogue in the episode was dynamite. Arya and the Hound had some excellent moments with the dying man. When the Hound mercifully puts an end to the poor fading bloke's misery telling Arya "That's where
the heart is" it foreshadowed this week's episode.

I did have to laughwhen Arya told the wounded man "You shouldn't be sitting out here like this" as I am not to sure where he could move himself to considering his condition.

We meet up with the delightful Hot Pie again who seems to have found a place to call home and his passion. He's one of the few characters content with his lot.

Podrick and Brienne are putting the pieces of the puzzle together and bonding nicely in their partnering, but the tale of the two paths scene in the forest leaves an eerie sense on their departing moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sausage intestines spilt on the dust by Gregor and Cersei skirts swishing over them and with his and Oberyn's battle to the death, Mance's fast approaching army, Stannis on the move again, and no doubt some typically Game of Thrones-styled surprises thrown in, I think it's gearing up for a bloody good season finale. 

- Kate