TV Review: GAME OF THRONES S2E6, THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW (Or, Anyone Want A Cuddle?)

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
[Twitch is reviewing Game Of Thrones on an episode by episode basis throughout the current season. Please note that these are being written from someone who has very deliberately NOT read the books so as to come to the story fresh and will not be reading the books until after the series concludes. Should you wish to compare and contrast the books to the show please be courteous to those who have not read them yet by limiting discussions to the timeline currently played out on screen as well. This particular installment delayed somewhat by the ongoing move of Twitch HQ, but boxes be damned!]

It took sixteen episodes but someone finally did the sensible thing on Game Of Thrones and threw a big pile of shit into Joffrey's face. And, yes, that was rather satisfying, but more on that in a moment.

After a pair of fast paced, big picture episodes in a row the David Nutter directed The Old Gods And The New steps back a bit for something a little bit more character based. It's time for everyone to get in touch with their emotions with - of course - a bit of full frontal nudity and a beheading thrown in.

We start with the (relatively secondary) storylines before moving on to the big stuff.

On the battlefield Robb puts the moves on the lovely nurse, Talisa, he encountered a couple episodes back. It's going rather well, really, with the young King Of The North putting the moves on to great effect until mother shows up to spoil the mood with a reminder that he is already engaged to someone else. Whoops. Oh, yes, and then word comes that Theon has taken Winterfell and executed Rodrik, which spoils the mood even further.

What's that? Yes, Theon's attack on the coastal town was nothing but a ruse with his main force moving directly on Winterfell itself and if there was any doubt remaining that Bran is a seer then that doubt is entirely gone now. There's also absolutely no doubt that when next Theon and Robb meet, Theon - who comes across like a whiny adolescent next to the far more driven and charismatic Stark - will end up dead. Osha - the wildling captive - gets naked (like anyone wanted to see that) to distract Theon (who is always thinking with his penis) and manages to escape with Bran - carried by his half giant servant - and Rickon, meaning that the younger two Starks are now on the run in the Northlands accompanied only by a wildling and a half giant. And, yes, this does count as a relatively minor event in this particular episode.

The other minor - relatively speaking - plot touched on this time out revolves around Arya, still serving as Tywin Lannister's cup bearer in Harrenhall. Lord Baelish turns up, continuing to play all sides while looking for the best angle to serve his own interests, and certainly recognizes the younger of the Stark girls but keeps the information to himself. As for Arya, she spots a letter regarding her brother Robb and sneaks it out of Lannister's war room, only to be spotted by one of Lannister's key supporters forcing her to call in the second of the three deaths owed her by her strange talking ally.

Daenerys sulks and someone steals her dragons. Maybe next week she'll stamp her feet! It is to dream.

Now on to the big stuff ...

Jon Snow finally gets his first assignment as a ranger and promptly fucks it up. Snow is part of a small band tasked with eliminating the wildling sentries guarding the pass to the stronghold where their forces are massing. They do that bit well enough until Snow realizes that the last wildling standing is a woman. And doesn't kill her. But she's got an axe! Still doesn't kill her. She's told us all she knows. Still doesn't kill her. We don't have anyone to guard her. Still doesn't kill her. We can't set her free. Still doesn't kill her. Other guy goes to kill her. No, no, says Jon, I'll kill her and catch up later. Still doesn't kill her. She runs away. He catches her. Still doesn't kill her. Ties her up instead and now is hopelessly lost in the wild with an enemy woman who he cuddles up to for warmth as she grinds her ass into his groin. The woman - Ygritte - proves herself quite sensible when she points out that Snow is brave but stupid. They spend a lot of time on this bit for a piece where very little actually happens but, hey! It's finally a good amount of time spent north of the Wall and it's pretty obvious that Ygritte is going to become a major character. She's less likely to get naked than Osha, however, because they're in a place that is much, much colder.

And now to the shit slinging. It occurs as the royal family is returning from sending Joffrey's younger sister out of the city to be married and prompts a full on tantrum from the young king - foot stamping included. And if you thought the mood towards the king was sour before the tantrum - i.e. sour enough for a peasant to throw shit into his face - it gets downright surly after he orders his guards to kill everyone present. A full on melee breaks out and - the guards being horribly outnumbered - they do the sensible thing by putting Joffrey into a headlock and simply dragging him to the nearest secure building while he continues to scream at the top of his lungs.

As they hit shelter Tyrion seems to be the only one who realizes that Sansa has been separated from the group - pure politics on his part, or something else - and when Joffrey proves more interested in continuing his foot stamping tantrum than sending someone after the only leverage the Lannisters have to get Jaime back, Tyrion simply slaps him about the head and shoulders. Shaming the boy-king in front of his guards and mother? Probably not the most politically astute thing Tyrion has ever done but, damn, it was satisfying. Luckily for Sansa, the Dog - Joffrey's personal guard who should have remained by him no matter what - has an interest in her that is clearly personal and he turns up to save her from a certain rape and death. And possibly further rape. It got really ugly.

So, here's where things stand: Robb has made his first major mistake - trusting Theon - and it has come back to bite him. Bran is on the run and seemingly coming into some sort of magical powers. Arya is teetering on the edge of exposure. Nobody wants to help Daenerys but they are more than willing to steal her dragons. Joffrey remains a twat but is now a twat who has been publicly shamed both by the public and by his uncle, which likely makes him even more dangerous. And Snow has a cuddle-buddy.
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  • WarOnMugs

    Thanks for the enjoyable and concise rundown.

    I wouldn't call it a "review" in the typical sense. Those usually summarize plot and focus on opinions about acting, story, writing etc. But yeah, this play-by-play helps solidify some of the events and names of characters I couldn't be bothered to remember the first time around. So I appreciate it.

    I definitely liked this episode. Maybe the best of the season so far.

    Big question mark for me though: when Daenarys is off courting the Spice King for his fleet, and then returns to find her dragons gone and her posse dead, where is her faithful minder Jorah? I would think he'd be with his Khalisi, or if not, definitely back at the ranch, guarding the dragons. Could the hooded dude, carrying the beasts up the steps at the end be him? If so... why, oh why?

    On to episode 7!

  • Greg Rivera

    Todd, if the showrunners maintain their current level of quality presentation combined with the adherence to the story path laid out by GRRMartin then I can safely say, you haven't seen anything yet. Please, keep 'em coming.

  • Ard Vijn

    Amen to that. I'm curious to see if (or even HOW) the series can keep up with the books when things will get even wilder...

  • Greg Rivera

    Ard..."WHAT WAS HER NAME?" ...if the show gets even that far, I will be One Happy Puerto Rican.

  • Greg Rivera

    Your Game of Thrones reviews have become required reading for me. It's fun to read what you get right and when you're a little off regarding the path the story is taking. What you wrote about Jon Snow caused me to laugh out loud at work, thanks for that. I believe that you will enjoy the books immensely, as George RR Martin seems to write certain chapters with the same sense of humor used in your reviews.

  • Thanks, man, that's really encouraging to hear! I'm really looking forward to reading the books but I know once I start I'm not going to stop so I want to wait for the series to get a good bit farther in first ...

  • Airchinapilot

    The sequence where Arya has to use up her second death wish on Amory Lorch and he shows up at Tywin's chamber only to fall dead in the doorway was completely hilarious.

  • Ard Vijn

    I won't spoil anything concerning your current predictions, but reading about your surprise when past ones turn out to be completely wrong is a lot of fun.

    And that surprise completely mirrors my own from when I read the books. I swear I suspected at the time that George R. R. Martin was throwing dice to determine the fate of his leads, so ruthless, chaotic and unpredictable is his storyline.



    It is remarkable that the series appears to follow the books so closely without changing any of the major "downs" (as happened in NORTH AND SOUTH when Patrick Swayze's character was kept alive by public demand).

  • Ard Vijn

    These reviews are a hoot, please keep them up!

    For me as a reader of the books who isn't watching the series, it's great to follow at what point the series is, and will await with glee (no, not the musical) the next installments...

  • Thanks! I'm having fun writing them ... if nothing else it's forcing me to try and pay attention for the little details and characters beats that are going to repeat later on ... curious to see if my guesses turn out to be correct!

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