Game of Thrones ups the sadism, the humour and the dialogue

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3 Review: Free of the unwieldy fantasy books that inspired it, the show is thriving.

The mood ofGame of Thrones(Sky Atlantic, Monday, 2am & 9pm) is always likely to swing. We’ve had whole series charged with fighting spirit and delicious wit, then others that lingered in the wearisome depths of trudging processions and torture chambers.

Here, in the third episode of the penultimate season, we get a taste of both; a fondness for sadism that is hard to excuse as belonging to the characters alone, and a dollop of good humour that persuades you the showrunners will not get mired in the stuff.

Anyone whose childhood ever involved a horribly dispelled moment of make-believe, like a grown up casting doubt on the interstellar capacity of your cardboard spaceship, will find it hard not to cringe in empathy when Jon Snow, asks, rather pathetically, “So you believe me, then, about the Night King and the Army of the Undead.”

He’s always banging on about those guys, as though they were his favourite and under-appreciated metal band, but NK&TAU really remain a Northern thing. He is in Dragonstone, partly through the agencies of priestess Melisandre, briefly glimpsed explaining that she has “brought ice and fire together”, a little like Spinal Tap’s Derek “Lukewarm Water” Smalls.

Here, though, we have a whole court that believes in fire-breathing dragons who find the idea of zombies just a bit too much to swallow. Instead, we witness some very competitive CV rattling.

Behold Daenerys Targaryen! Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, The Unburnt! (“The Unburnt?” That’s just padding.)

Behold Jon Snow! Reluctant King of the North, apparent Metal devotee and secretly a little undead himself!

And while Daenerys gets the hump that Jon will not kneel before her, Jon delivers the major insight of the episode: everyone in this war is behaving like a child.

Take a suspiciously pink-lipped Cersei, whose Dornish enemies are delivered to her by strutting pantomime villain and Village People style icon, Euron Greyjoy. She spends much time taunting her enemies, while also chiding a gagged and bound Ellaria that her slain lover should never have wasted so much time taunting his enemies. Sometimes you need to be a kid to follow this bitter logic.

Given the pink-lipsticked kiss of death – typical of the show’s combination of the erotic and sadistic – Tyene is left to perish slowly before her mother’s eyes, shackled opposite her.

But what damage has been done to Cersei, who is growing ever more deranged among the immensely fickle baying hordes of King’s Landing? After all, they enjoy nothing more than pelting veg and misogynistic abuse during a walk of shame, or a parade of captives, and have been known to turn against mad royalty before.

Now, even the Iron Bank of Braavos is getting jumpy. When Mark Gatiss’s unctuous envoy applauds an emboldened Cersei for incinerating religious tyrants (bad for business), he is less assured by her warfaring prospects: “Daenerys Targaryen has three full-grown dragons,” he says, easily the most thrilling statement ever delivered by an actuary.

In some stereo moping by the windswept clifftops of Dragonstone, Jon Snow complains about his hopeless situation while Tyrion Lannister unleashes a salvo of witty rejoinders: “You look a lot better brooding than I do.”

It’s just like the old days. “How can I convince people who don’t know me that an enemy they don’t believe in is coming to kill them all?” asks Jon, which both bolsters the belief that the whole show is a metaphor for climate change, or Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, while also delivering belly-laughs of arch self-reference.

Yes, there’s another big battle scene (assisted by Tyrion’s old prostitute-smuggling tunnels, the Unsullied take Casterley Rock in less time than it takes Cersei to torture Ellaria) and, of course, an obligatory switcheroo.

The Lannister armies have instead gone to Highgarden, leaving the Unsullied stymied.

There, Olenna Tyrell, our favourite tart-tongued matriarch, gives an already shaken Jaime a no-nonsense appraisal of Cersei’s even-by-Game-of-Thrones-standards excessive wickedness, glugs down a poisoned tipple, and lastly tells him that it was she who poisoned Joffrey. For all the toxins, it’s a deservedly classy exit for Diana Rigg; some eye-for-an-eye vengefulness, gratefully spared from sadistic excess.

It’s also another indication thatGame of Thrones, George RR Martin’s unwieldy fantasy book series, is under the firmer control of its more fleet-footed fans, namely writers David Benioff and DB Weiss, who have outpaced the published legend by two series.

This, you have to suspect, is why there has been such a sharp increase in good dialogue ever since, and also why the vestiges of torture porn will always be with us. (Even Bran, now the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven, can’t help picking at humiliating wounds when reunited with Sansa).

To discover Benioff and Weiss’s formula, just listen to Sam Tarley, who is asked to explain his miraculous de-greyscaling of hopeless cause Jorah Mormont: “I read the book,” he says, “and followed the instructions.”

Read more news of Dublin here.

irishtimes
DBWeiss DonaldTrump GeorgeRR DavidBenioff DianaRiggs MarkGatiss
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
5 views in august
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
The deadline has passed for those occupying a house in Dublin's north inner city to leave the building. The property was occupied earlier this month in what organisers said was a "political protest" in response to the housing crisis in Ireland. Yesterday, the High Court ordered those occupying the houseto vacate it by 8am this morning. Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan granted the property's owner, PJ O'Donnell (as trustee of the Pat O'Donnell & Co Ltd Retirement...
Society
A new all-time high for private residential rents has been reached for the ninth quarter in a row, according to the latest report from the property websiteDaft.ie. Its quarterly rental report shows rents across Ireland rose by an average of 12.4%in the year to June. This report shows the average monthly rent across the country during the second quarter of this year was €1,304, whichis€274 per month higher than the previous peak in 2008. In Dublin, the incr...
Society
GSK is to close its Sligo manufacturing plant with the loss of 165 jobs by 2021. In a statement, the company said it hadinformed employees at theskincare manufacturing siteof a proposal to close the site. Production at Stiefel Laboratories in Sligo will be phased downover three yearsbefore decommissioning the site by the end of 2021. The company said demand for the products made at the site had not grown in line with previous expectations, which has made t...
Crime
A man in his 20s has been charged in connection with the seizure of drugs in Cork worth around €45,000. He was arrested yesterday afternoon following a search on MacCurtain Street in Cork city, when he was found to be in possession of the drugs. The drugs, pending an analysis, are suspected to be cocaine. The man was brought to Mayfield Garda Station following his arrest, where he was later charged.
Incidents
The cyclist was taken to Mater Hospital following the collision. The collision involving a truck and cyclist on North Wall Quay A cyclist had a lucky escape this morning after they collided with a truck in a scary incident in the city centre - writes dublinlive.ie The incident happened just after 9am this morning on on Guild Street at North Wall Quay just beside the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Cyclists have now raised their concerns about the incident in an are...
Society
A US police chief has defended the use of a Taser on an 87-year-old grandmother cutting dandelions near her home in the southern state of Georgia. The incident occurred last Friday when a youth club worker called the police emergency number 911 after spotting Martha Al-Bishara, who does not speak English, using a knife to cut dandelions in the club's grounds near her home - writes rte.ie Responding to the scene, police in Chatsworth, around 135km north of...
Society
The leader of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has said he hopes to meet the pope when he travels to Dublin next week. Moderator Dr Charles McMullen is attending a State reception for the pontiff at Dublin Castle on 25 August. Dr McMullen will also be present, at the invitation of Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin, at the Festival of Families in Croke Park that evening, which Pope Francis will attend. Dr McMullen said: "The visit of Pope Francis to Irelan...
Society
Eighty students who sat the Leaving Certificate exam this year have not been given their results over fears they may have cheated. The State Examinations Commission has confirmed results are being "permanently withheld" from 43 of these students and it is still investigating the cases of a further 37 students whose results have not yet been handed out. The commission said their results are being provisionally withheld on a without prejudice basis, pending...
Society
The union representing pilots at Ryanair has described as "significant" the fact that talks with the airline are entering a fourth day. Both sides are attempting to resolve differences over base transfers, promotions, annual leave and other issues - writes rte.ie Bernard Harbour of Fórsa said the fact that mediator Kieran Mulvey is continuing with negotiations suggests, he thinks, that there is the possibility of reaching agreement today. Mr Harbour said a...