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'Game of Thrones' recap: Joffrey, prince of smackability

Gameofthrones26 Contrary to what various characters keep saying in "Game of Thrones," direwolves seem to make excellent pets, especially if creeps with blades are lurking about. Maybe they don't take instruction well -- Arya Stark has problems teaching hers to obey verbal commands -- but this week's episode repeatedly involves them defending their human companions, and even taking the fall for them.

In fact, wolves (and dogs) are all over this episode; it's what you might call a thematic focus. We even get to meet Prince Joffrey's lackey, "the Hound."

Where the first episode raced breathlessly from incident to incident and new character to new character, this one picks a handful of plot points, and hammers them in.

The story line that seems to be spinning its wheels involves Jon Snow joining the Night's Watch, for no clear reason. Jon's not terribly popular with Catelyn Stark, because he's not one of her kids, and anyway she's preoccupied with Bran's condition. Not only does Tyrion point out Jon's illegitimacy repeatedly, but Eddard dodges the subject of who exactly Jon's mother is with both him and King Bob in consecutive scenes. And then, just as in last week's episode, "a rider in the night" is credited with passing along a chunk of exposition to which the onscreen characters otherwise wouldn't have access. Do you suppose all the talk about Jon's mom might be ... foreshadowing something?

Speaking of foreshadowing, the amount of time the "Game of Thrones" camera is spending lingering lovingly over those dragon eggs Daenerys Targaryen got as a wedding present suggests that we're not supposed to miss their deep symbolic portent. The Targaryen Twosome's scenes are as close as this series gets to comic relief: Viserys is already acting like he runs the joint, and Daenerys gets schooled in the art of love by the only one of her new servant girls who doesn't sound like John Cleese in Monty Python's "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch. The scene in which Daenerys demonstrates how to say "I want it that way" in Dothraki, then teaches Khal Drogo the more civilized cowgirl technique, is the quintessence of Orientalist camp. And then the ever-present Dothraki drum circle starts up again. Don't those guys know any Al Green?

QuizPromoEp2 The killer performance in this episode, though, comes from Jack Gleeson as the sadistic, entitled little twerp Joffrey Baratheon, the most smackable scion of power HBO has seen since Ziggy Sobotka on "The Wire." Tyrion Lannister slapping Joffrey repeatedly at the beginning of this episode is only a taste of what ought to be in store for him.

It's clear that most of the Lannisters and their kin have it in for the Starks, but their scheming pales before his sheer, horrifically whiny arrogance. With a single act of jerkhood, he manages to throw the entire House of Stark into disarray: Arya, Sansa, Eddard and the King are all ticked off at each other, and an innocent creature gets the chop. Well, two innocent creatures.

Of course, the set-up of "Game of Thrones" demands that we care more about the fate of the luckless Lady than about the fate of the butcher's boy, whose only crime was being the playmate of aristocracy, and whose corpse is waved away with a single brief shot. But the ruling class -- and even their pets -- always seem to matter more than the commoners. Psyched for that other show about a royal wedding?

Your challenge for the week, commenters, is to complete the following limerick:

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian...
 
First prize is "Game of Thrones" gets renewed for a second season. (Actually, everybody already wins that.) Second prize is a slightly used, slightly damp sword, though you might have to take a little swim for it. Third prize is you get to be Arya's new sparring partner.

The sex and violence tally:

Fatalities: Two, most notably a lupine throat removal -- not counting the other kind of lupine fatality

Bare breasts: Two, as Daenerys tries to figure out what there is to look at in her tent while she's otherwise occupied

RELATED:

Full Show Tracker coverage of "Game of Thrones"

"Game of Thrones" quiz: Test your Westeros knowledge

-- Douglas Wolk

Photo: Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) prepares to give a master class in extreme dog training on "Game of Thrones." Credit: HBO

 
Comments () | Archives (9)

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian.
Her handmaiden said,
"take charge in the bed,
and you'll sit without pain sit in a chair again."

This recap sucks. Seriously. Way to gloss over anything worth talking about, in favor of irritating snark that makes it look like you were only paying half attention.

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian...
For Access to his heart, lest her arse be torn apart
She rides him up and down again

arrggh! I messed it up; last line should be:

And you'll sit without pain in a chair again."

Mr. Wolk: Have you read ASOIF?

As an avid fan, I don't have a problem with the snarkyness (probably wouldn't read it here if I didn't enjoy the tone) - just curious if you have an idea where this is headed. If you have, you're doing a wonderful job of keeping this spoiler free.

I have some issues with what's been cut, obviously - and the "rider in the night" is a poor substitute for the "dark wings, dark words" - but I understand why the raven express is not in the show. It is consistent with the way information is delivered slowly in canon, and how much and why "King Bob" hates the Targaryans is, umm, a little important. So is keeping vows - see the beheading of Gared last episode for what is supposed to happen when you do in this milieu.

Harry Loyd and Jack Gleeson have been spectacular as their respective sniveling and entitled royals. The Hound was a bit flat, for me, but... Dinklage made up for that.

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian
She switched her position
before she needed a physician
Because it hurt like a Caesarian!

jrg wrote:

>>Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian.
Her handmaiden said,
"take charge in the bed,
and you'll sit without pain in a chair again."<<

Well, darn. I was going to take a shot at it, but jrg had to go make me laugh. I quit. :-) Guess I get third prize. Will bring bandages and a stretcher.

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian.
So she asked to be taught
But with a teacher that hot
She'd rather play naughty librarian

Daenerys, a nervous Targaryen,
Sought to tame a Dothraki barbarian
Her Jihad on rough sex
Caused the Khal to perplex
But her hip twirls were downright Antarean (out of this world)...

May I have a Dragon please? :)


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