Monday, August 8, 2011

Game of Thrones (TV) - Lord Snow

Arrogance Personified - Jaime Lannister

Next to Arya, my favorite casting thus far has been Jaime Lannister, incestuous brother of Cersei Lannister, Queen of Westeros. In the book, Jaime is the embodiment of confidence, favored son of the richest House of the realm. He is infamous for betraying the previous King (Aerys II) and personally killing him. Thus, among most everyone, he is known as the Kingslayer, a title that also speaks to his personal view on authority and the “game of thrones” mentality. Fact of the matter is that he could care less; Jaime’s opinion is that the whole world can burn so long as he can spend time with his sister.

This point of view is an oddly appealing one, which is one of the reasons why he is one of my favorite characters in the entire series. Where everyone else holds themselves to the standards and rules set by tradition and duty, Jaime strides through it all with a devil-may-care attitude. Where others do their best to seek influence and manipulate world events, Jaime just straight up doesn’t give a damn. This carefree manner is matched by legendary skill with the blade and a self-assured arrogance that can’t be topped by any other character in the entire series.

In the TV series, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has managed to capture this personality perfectly. Although Jaime’s unique golden plate armor didn’t seem to make it in, he remains the most distinctive among the Kingsguard and, so far, the closest we have to a villain among the cast. But, as is also captured in the books, Jaime’s magnetic personality prevents us from hating him completely. And this is very necessary considering the character development he gets later in the series.

My only kinda-sorta criticism is that I don’t feel like Jaime’s character was quite as antagonistic in the books as he is in the TV series. Jaime making fun of Jon Snow’s choice to join the Night’s Watch for no particular reason comes to mind. As well as Jaime’s continual confrontational attitude with Eddard Stark. From what I remember, book-Jaime only challenged Ned once Tyrion was captured. By contrast, TV-Jaime seems like he’s looking for a fight with Ned with every conversation. In the end, this sort of change to Jaime’s character is largely irrelevant and doesn’t affect much, but I thought I’d make a note of it.

The King’s Small Council

This is the first episode to feature the King’s Small Council, the group of advisers and policy-makers who are essentially the government of Westeros when the king is busy. We see a great deal of them this episode as Ned Stark arrives at King’s Landing and gets used to his position as King’s Hand, which makes him effective chairman of the Small Council. Given their importance, the Small Council is populated by some of the most interesting characters of the entire series, which fueled my curiosity as I watched and compared their performances to the descriptions in the books.

First off, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. So far, I think I like Littlefinger’s casting (Aidan Gillen). Visually, he looks comparable to the description of the character within the book. And he appears to embody all that is manipulative and tricky, particularly seen in his interactions with Ned Stark and Varys. I would say that the only thing so far that I wish they had spent more time on is giving some background on his long unrequited love for Catelyn Stark. I say this because, so far, his affection for her seems pretty unbelievable; the problem is that the audience is merely told that Petyr loves her; you can’t really tell that from just watching (he appears to treat her pretty much the same as everyone else, just marginally more polite). Hopefully they treat this aspect of his character with more depth later.

Second, Varys the Eunuch. Varys is, like Littlefinger, visually cast well (Conleth Hill) and his character seems perfectly recognized. But I noticed that Varys’ character also has a piece missing; we aren’t told why everyone often seems disgusted and barely tolerant of his presence. In the books, this is because Varys acts the sniveling eunuch, which the other characters find distasteful and dishonorable. In the TV show, instead we see this polite and slightly eccentric bald guy get continually blown off and rudely treated for no understandable reason. Again, hopefully they point out why this is happening later.

Lastly, Grand Maester Pycelle and Renly Baratheon. These two get less attention this episode, so all I can say is that I expected Pycelle to be fatter and Renly to look more kingly (as he is often described as the spitting image of King Robert at his best). But I won’t judge them on looks alone and I look forward to seeing how their characters are treated later in the series.

And, finally, my favorite scene this episode...

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