Game of Thrones – Season 1: Episode 8: The Pointy End
BY JORDAN OSLIN
Note: This review will be most pertinent if you have seen the prior episodes of Game of Thrones up to this point.
“Game of Thrones” clearly prides itself on the seemingly endless quagmires of deception and misdirection. It is a notion so often repeated throughout the historical epics that have made their way to HBO and Showtime that the motif feels more waterlogged and matted than refreshing in the reprisal of the treacherous flaws of human nature. By no means is “Game of Thrones” a historical epic, as the characters and setting stem from a completely fictional world, but one can easily spot the echoes of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, tempered by a strong foundation in Greek and Roman Classics. The problem with such a simple recognition is that other shows have done this very thing to a more impressive and memorable degree. Therefore, the audience spends a large portion of each episode searching for something truly original, something surprising.
HBO’s typical tactic of grasping at the audience’s attention (as well as keeping the over sexualized demographic of twenty-somethings dedicated) is to fill air time with nudity and sexual intercourse. This tested and true method of securing a base audience seems out of place in “Game of Thrones,” however, as the world that the show builds is one alluding to something more in the vein of “Lord of the Rings” or “Beowulf.” The further problem with the repetition of sometimes lewd sexual situations is that when they are absent from a particular episode, the audience feels disappointed, looking for violence to replace the void left by the lack of moaning and swinging mammary glands.
Episode 8: “The Pointy End” is one such episode, emphasizing a steady crescendo into the violence of the so-called “realm,” a confederation of vassal lands with seemingly contradictory motivations. The feeling that “the winter is coming” has been on the mind of the audience ever since one of the Starks, the rulers of the Kingdom of Winterfell, pointed the fact out through an elucidation of their family motto. However, aside from periodic check-ins with the meager host of men who keep the wall to the north (a clear allusion to Hadrian’s wall, which in a similar fashion kept the forces of the barbarians of northern Brittany at bay), winter is nothing more than a looming threat, leaving the main conflict between the vassal states and the oncoming barbarian horde.
Ruled by Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa most notably known from “Stargate Atlantis”), the horde is an allusion to something of a combination of the Native American plains tribes and the Mongol thunderers of the steppes. The viciousness and ferocity of the horde, however, has only come to light in the past couple episodes, focused more on the figure head of Khal Drogo, a massive, scarred man who has never lost in battle. He poured molten gold onto Viserys Targaryen’s head presumably killing him (although I am still waiting for the deformed and uppity snot to wander throughout the realm), and in this episode Drogo ripped a competitor’s throat out of his neck after dodging blows from a curved blade reminiscent of the mainstay of swords used by the Middle Kingdom Egyptians.
The horde is something of a relief. Although mired in the politics of the realm across the so-called Narrow Sea, the horsemen seem as conquering saviors with the potential to remove the blight of the tedious and somewhat boring cloak and dagger day to day dealings of the Starks, the Baratheons, and the Lannisters. Further, if winter does ever come the horde is the only thing that will be able to stop it.
My dearest hope is that when winter does come it will not bring with it zombie white walkers who mindlessly slaughter normal human beings. Blue eyed and difficult to kill, the white walkers absolutely must have a motivation outside of the massacre of everyone and everything in the realm. If they do not, their appearance will be arbitrary and disappointing, leaving the broken stalemate of the realm’s knights cowering, looking to Drogo for salvation. Then, the horde will merely fight off the great evil, a disappointing notion to say the least.