So So Gay reviews the penultimate episode of hit series, Game of Thrones.
Now this is the episode that we have been waiting for all season. After a promising start followed by a slightly confused pace, Game of Thrones finally lives up to the our high expectations and delivers a truly brilliant episode that we will remember for many months to come. By taking the focus and honing in on a single storyline, we are treated to a truly dramatic piece centered around the final battle of the Blackwater.
It is a credit to the show that even in this late hour we find ourselves uncertain which side we want to support. The battle between the forces of Stannis and Joffrey has been a long time coming and even as the show gets underway we felt a palpable tension that was hard to shake. Watching the preparations of the attackers and defenders was a truly stomach churning half hour of drama, as each side prepares for what could be their last night on earth. Tyrion takes on his role as the leader of the city’s defenses behind his sadistic nephew, while his sister Cersei is forced behind the walls of the stronghold and wait the invasion out. It was spectacularly gratifying to see so much time spent on just their stories, as each reacted differently to the coming battle, and watching them crumble and rise up to the challenge will stand out the highlights of this season.
Once the battle finally comes underway, and Tyrion’s plans for the enemy fleet are revealed, we could not help but be impressed by its simplicity and its effectiveness. The use of Wildfire was hinted at earlier in the series, but to seeing its use against the enemy makes the viewer realise just how far each side will go to win. Cersei as well began to suffer and as the pressure began to build we witness her to consider unthinkable acts to preserve the safety of her family. Her slightly drunken talks with Sansa this week also made for a spectacularly tragi-comic interplay, as Sansa came to realise she was looking into her own future should she become queen. It was Tyrion’s own rise to the rank of chief defender which saw the ‘imp’ truly come into his own. Peter Dinklage proved in season one that he had the tenacity and talent to portray such a nuanced and detailed character as Tyrion. However, seeing him make speeches to the men of the city, and calling them out for their fear was a brilliant and explosive moment which we will not soon forget.
The show’s bosses really scaled back on the multiple storylines this week, with all the action taking place in Kings Landing and the nearby sea. Rather than feeing like we have lost touch with the other characters, however, we were treated to a much needed game-changer of an episode. It made the most of the tension which had been building up this season, and created a little gem which reminded us that the show has a few more surprises in store before the finale. This focus also benefitted the characters this week and really hammered home the sense of impending doom and despair which the show has thus far been lacking.
Fans of the literature will be happy to know that the battle of Blackwater felt as though it was lifted from the books – with only the most superficial changes to help the translation to the screen. The drama was compelling without trying to force-feed us with unnecessary dates and information, and the characters were able to carry the whole episode beautifully. With one episode to go of this season, we sit with bated breath, wondering if it can actually get better than this. If this episode is any indication then we are in for one amazing season finale next week.