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.

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 december
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Anotorious Estonian hitman who travelled to Ireland to carry out a murder for the Kinahan Gang has been caged for six years. Imre Arakas, who was under garda surveillance, flew into Ireland on a murder mission to take out James “Mago” Gately. The Special Criminal Court was told that Arakas bought a wig in Dublin city and used an encrypted Blackberry phone to receive information about the movements and location of Mr Gately in Northern Ireland. The 60-year-...
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he was "very satisfied" with the EU's position on the Irish backstop at last night's summit meeting. He said the European Union stands by the Withdrawal Agreement that was negotiated. EU leaders rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for legally binding assurances on the Irish backstop and ruled out any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. Speaking to reporters on day two of the summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar sa...
Gardai are appealing for witnesses after a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted in a car in Dublin. The incident happened around Ballsbridge in the early hours of Sunday morning with investigators on the hunt for a man in his '20s or 30s' with short dark hair, a short beard, and glasses. A source told Dublin Live that one theory being explored is that the victim may have been in a taxi at the time. The source explained: "This woman was enjoying a night o...
Gardai have been gathering CCTV evidence at a hotel where an alleged rape involving a well-known sports star took place. Forensic experts and detectives visited the property in South Co Dublin on Tuesday night to hunt for clues. Initially it was believed the incident took place at a south inner-city hotel but after further inquiries it was determined it happened closer to the Dundrum area. A source said: “Detectives and scenes of crime gardai arrived at th...
The plans for the SDCC and Cluid housing social apartments were approved at Monday's full meeting of the council. On Monday, 81 social housing apartments for the elderly on a site beside Tallaght Stadium were approved by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) - writes This was despite a campaign calling on the council to save the land which houses a council depot at Watergate Sean Walsh Park. Local groups such as Tallaght Community Council and Ta...
Two people have been arrested following a stabbing incident in Dublin city centre. The incident happened on Essex Quay at around 4.40pm. A man aged in his late 20s was treated at the scene and taken to St James's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries following the incident. A man and woman, both aged in their 20s, were arrested at the scene and are being detained at Pearse Street Garda Station. Gardaí sealed off part of the south quays for several ho...
A kitchen went up in flames yesterday after some Christmas decorations were left on top of a microvwave. The Dublin Fire Brigade had to be called to quell the flames after tinsel caught fire having been left over a mircowave. Firefighters have warned others to be more careful with their decorating saying the tinsel was placed over the microwave's vent causing it to go up once the machine was turned on. They said: "Yesterday, Firefighters attended a kitchen...
A Dublin mother is extremely concerned for the welfare of her 15-year-old son after he never came home from the shop yesterday. Aleksejs Snitko went to the Tesco shop in Balbriggan yesterday, Saturday December 9 at around 4.30pm. His mother Iveta told Dublin Live that when her son left the home, he was wearing light grey basketball shoes, tight sport trousers and a warm navy jacket with a hoodie. He was also carrying a black and blue Puma school bag. The t...
A man and woman were arrested following a stabbing incident that left Dublin city centre on lockdown on Sunday evening. The pair were taken to Pearse st station after another man in his early 20s was hospitalised with 'non-fatal injuries'. It is believed a fight spilled out onto the road with one witness telling Dublin Live that she thought the man was going to be "throw him into the river". She said: "They stopped the traffic while they were fighting that...