Un­furl the ap­peal of Thrones

This web of in­trigue and re­la­tion­ships is good viewing, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

FAN­TASY drama Game of Thrones, based on the book se­ries A Song of Fire and Ice by Ge­orge R.R. Martin, grew into a solid hit through its first sea­son, cul­mi­nat­ing in a shock­ing turn of events.

It has re­turned in fan­tas­tic form, re­con­fig­ur­ing it­self af­ter last sea­son’s de­noue­ment – when young, pe­tu­lant King Jof­frey (Jack Glee­son) be­headed the show’s nom­i­nal lead, Ned Stark (Sean Bean). If the show has a lead any more – and I’m not con­vinced it does – that role surely be­longs to Peter Din­klage as the cun­ning, of­ten hi­lar­i­ous Tyrion Lan­nis­ter.

Tyrion re­turns to King’s Land­ing where born-of-in­cest Jof­frey rules with­out strat­egy. Jof­frey’s tyranny is matched only by his care­less­ness.

‘‘That bit of theatre will haunt our fam­ily for a gen­er­a­tion,’’ Tyrion scolds Jof­frey over Ned’s ex­e­cu­tion. Later, Tyrion of­fers faint praise to Jof­frey’s mother, the de­vi­ous Queen Re­gent Cer­sei (Lena Headey): ‘‘You love your chil­dren; it’s your one re­deem­ing qual­ity – that and your cheek­bones.’’

Cer­sei seems ter­ri­fied of her son, largely be­cause her brother/lover Jaime Lan­nis­ter (Nikolaj Coster-waldau) is a cap­tive of Robb Stark (Richard Mad­den), who is wag­ing war against the Lan­nis­ters to avenge his fa­ther’s death.

There’s no ques­tion that Game of Thrones weaves a tan­gled, in­tri­cate web of re­la­tion­ships and in­trigue. It prob­a­bly helps to have some­one who’s read the Game of Thrones books sit­ting on the couch next to you to act as a liv­ing, breath­ing ref­er­ence guide. Al­ter­na­tively, the TV show’s ac­tual Wikipedia en­try can help view­ers de­tan­gle the in­trigue.

But even with­out such guid­ance, the TV se­ries does a pretty good job of set­ting the stage for view­ers, from its open­ing cred­its that zoom over all the ge­o­graphic lands fea­tured in each episode – Dragon­stone and Pyke are among the new ad­di­tions – to on-screen la­bels when view­ers are plopped into a new lo­ca­tion in the sea­son pre­miere.

At Dragon­stone, the brother of King Baratheon, who died in sea­son one al­low­ing Jof­frey to as­cend to the throne, plots to take back what he be­lieves is right­fully his. Stan­nis Baratheon (Stephen Dil­lane) has heard ever-grow­ing ru­mours that Jof­frey is not of Baratheon blood. (Jof­frey takes his own dras­tic mea­sures to wipe out po­ten­tial pos­si­ble heirs.)

Be­yond The Wall to the north, Jon Snow (Kit Har­ing­ton) and Samwell (John Bradley) en­counter a nasty abuser of women.

Across the sea in The Red Waste, Daen­erys Tar­garyen (Emilia Clarke) has a rough go of it as she and ad­viser Jo­ran Mor­mont (Iain Glen, who played Sir Richard Carlisle in sea­son two of Down­ton Abbey) try to es­cape the desert as Daen­erys’ dragons grow in size.

To the unini­ti­ated, this surely all sounds like gib­ber­ish. Game of Thrones is eas­ily tele­vi­sion’s most am­bi­tious drama for ex­pan­sive sto­ry­telling, but it doesn’t shirk its duty to tell smaller sto­ries about in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ters. That the se­ries man­ages to ex­cel at both is re­ward­ing and breath­tak­ing in its achieve­ment.

US net­work HBO has an­nounced the show will be back for se­ries three.

There will be blood.

8.30pm, Show­case.


Peter Din­klage (front) as the cun­ning Tyrion Lan­nis­ter.

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