switchbladesis: (Default)
[personal profile] switchbladesis


One of the main issues people keep on taking about when adapting Game of Thrones is how to deal with the gobs of backstory that the text has. It's one thing to do it in text, but you can't just have people standing around talking about what happened way back when, it'd be boring.

Only this episode was all about standing around talking about what happened way back when, and it was actually interesting-so much that it almost eclipses an important plot point this episode-the death of Jon Arryn's squire. And I sort of want to poke it and try to figure out how the hell they managed to make that work. They only tried the 'just add boobies' thing once, and honestly, that was their most awkward attempt.

I think the last scene, with Catelyn telling everyone's backstory and Tyrion asking why we cared was a nice meta moment: Tyrion's the audience. Why do we care about who served who and then killed who fifteen years ago? Why do we care that Catelyn's maiden name is Tully? And the answer comes immediately: because family is important here, it affects the decisions the characters make, and decides what side someone takes in a conflict. The events of Game of Thrones don't take place in a vacuum. What happened fifteen, twenty years ago still affects the present in a big way.

And I'm really impressed on how well they pulled this off. Not only did Theon Greyjoy (AKA NotaStark) get named, we heard his backstory. Twice. In two different scenes, involving two different people. But it served a different purpose each time: once to show how Tyrion can still be kind of an ass right after they made him sympathetic to Bran, once as an attempt to have Jamie and Ned's man (whose name I forgot) bond over a shared experience, only to have Jamie refuse to do the gracious thing because it would be beneath him. Theon's backstory isn't important now, but it's a good thing to keep in mind later on. . . and plus, it might make people realize that no, he's not another Stark kid. It's helpful to have this not come out of nowhere later, at least.

And all the little bits of history served two purposes: Littlefinger telling the story of the Clegane brothers makes it obvious that Littlefinger's a sleaze and further breaks down Sansa's romantic view of nobility and knighthood, the weaponsmaster telling takes of cannibalism beyond the wall explains a lot about why the weaponsmaster is a sadist (and adds weight to his sneering about them being boys-sure, being a misfit sucks, but they haven't had to eat their companions yet), and Sansa asking about her grandfather and uncle's deaths illustrates her on uneasiness.

The wall was really well done, too. Jon and Sam are believable there-and Jon sticking up to Sam makes sense, since he probably doesn't see Sam as that much more hopeless than any of the other recruits. Plus, we saw ghost again! Hi Ghost!

on 2011-05-11 11:03 pm (UTC)
sistabro: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sistabro
I'm glad that they did actually introduce Theon because I really do like his story line later on a lot, it's a powerful one. I have issue, however, with how they have shown him in the scenes prior to his official introduction. I honestly thought they had decided to cut his character because he was acting like a servant, kept saying he took Ned's orders, not his kids, etc. Which.. he's a prince in his own right, even if he's a hostage. Make him act like more than an over zealous, stickler for chain of command, bondsman please.

I need to rewatch because it was a background activity for me this week, but I was also fairly impressed with the exposition, particularly the bar scene, politics+backstory+plot point all in one there.
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