A ‘Thrones’ exit with def iance

Diana Rigg’s Queen of Thorns leaves ‘Game of Thrones’ with the fi­nal, pointed word.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Chris Bar­ton chris.bar­ton@la­times.com

Diana Rigg’s fear­less Lady Olenna never lost her bite, even at the bit­ter end.

With only 10 episodes left be­tween this sea­son and next year’s six-part con­clu­sion, “Game of Thrones” has be­gun the long work of ty­ing up its many, con­ti­nentspan­ning loose ends. Now that win­ter is here, ma­jor char­ac­ters pre­vi­ously on op­po­site sides of the world are com­ing to­gether while oth­ers, un­for­tu­nately, are reach­ing the end of the line.

(Warn­ing: Spoil­ers ahead, and our con­do­lences about hav­ing to avoid the In­ter­net and most pub­lic con­ver­sa­tions if you’re plan­ning to catch up later.)

And while there’s much to con­sider about the first meet­ing be­tween Daen­erys Tar­garyen and her un­wit­ting nephew Jon Snow, along with the sto­ry­telling de­mands that re­sult in the se­ries’ “yada yada yada”-ing two piv­otal bat­tles, at­ten­tion must be paid to a beloved char­ac­ter who was lost. But for a show that spe­cial­izes in bru­tal deaths, this one was unique in that her power re­mained undi­min­ished, and she was in con­trol to the end.

As they say in Braavos, all men must die. But Lady Olenna Tyrell will live for­ever.

But be­fore mourn­ing Diana Rigg’s in­deli­ble por­trayal of the “Queen of Thorns,” let’s con­sider that sum­mit be­tween Daen­erys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Har­ing­ton). Their meet­ing got off to a rough start with the re­luc­tant “King in the North” re­fus­ing to play pol­i­tics and “bend the knee” to Daen­erys — once a Stark, al­ways a Stark — and no one in her cav­ernous court of Dragonstone put much stock in his warn­ings of White Walk­ers amass­ing beyond the wall.

But with a lit­tle help from Tyrion (Peter Din­klage), Jon got what he came for in the is­land’s re­serve of drag­on­glass, which he’ll mine for weapons to use against the army of the dead. In another of “Game of Thrones’ ” now­ex­pected in­tense con­ver­sa­tions held over­look­ing a wa­ter­front, Daen­erys and Jon came to an un­easy un­der­stand­ing in a sec­ond con­ver­sa­tion that be­gan to feel a touch flir­ta­tious, which is a bit awk­ward given the fam­ily ties. (But that’s only a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience in the world of “Game of Thrones.”)

How­ever, the only per­son who knows about Jon’s Tar­garyen roots — Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) — only just now ar­rived in Win­ter­fell for a re­union with his sis­ter Sansa (So­phie Turner). Sep­a­rated for most of the show, their com­ing back to­gether was un­der­cut by Sansa’s in­abil­ity to make much sense of Bran’s grave talk of time and three-eyed ravens. Just like ev­ery­body else.

In terms of the show’s throne-chas­ing endgame, it’s worth not­ing how quickly the tide has turned for Daen­erys, who en­tered the sea­son a fa­vorite to de­feat Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter (Lena Headey) with the help of a Dothraki horde, a fleet of bor­rowed ships and, of course, three cranky dragons.

Now, af­ter ad­vi­sor Tyrion was again out­ma­neu­vered by his Lan­nis­ter sib­lings, the pre­sump­tive heir to the Iron Throne has lost twice at sea against swash­buck­ling scene-stealer Euron Greyjoy (Pilou As­baek) and on land as Jaime (Niko­laj CosterWal­dau) seized the Tyrells’ home — and for­tune — while Daen­erys’ forces were tak­ing a mostly un­de­fended Casterly Rock. Both bat­tles took place in roughly the span of a cliff-side con­ver­sa­tion, which was a bit of a re­lief given how much ground the show has to cover.

This brings us to Lady Olenna Tyrell who, in an ap­par­ent ad­her­ence to cus­tom, had to die once her home at High­gar­den fell. Rec­og­niz­able in a re­gal head­dress since her first ap­pear­ance, Rigg ’s Olenna was a rar­ity on a show whose tone is so of­ten heavy, dis­play­ing a re­lent­less wit and un­will­ing­ness to set it aside re­gard­less of what­ever stature her poor spar­ring part­ner may hold. In a mem­o­rable third-sea­son sit-down with the ruth­less Ty­win Lan­nis­ter (Charles Dance), Olenna called his daugh­ter Cer­sei old (“I’m some­thing of an ex­pert on the sub­ject”) and play­fully ques­tioned whether Ty­win ever ex­per­i­mented with ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity af­ter he dis­par­aged her grand­son Lo­ras, who was gay.

In the hands of Rigg — who mem­o­rably por­trayed Emma Peel in “The Avengers” of the late ’60s — Olenna held her own kind of court in the gar­dens of King’s Land­ing. She out-du­eled the equally quick-wit­ted eu­nuch Varys (Con­leth Hill), who found his at­tempts at courtly flat­tery buried in her re­torts. “Are you here to se­duce me? Se­duce away, it’s been so long,” she taunted. “Though I rather think it’s all for naught. What hap­pens when the nonex­is­tent bumps against the de­crepit?”

“Ah, yes the fa­mously tart-tongued Queen of Thorns,” said the queen re­gent dur­ing another spar­ring match. “And the fa­mous tart, Queen Cer­sei,” Olenna coun­tered.

No one was spared. Upon meet­ing with El­laria Sand (Indira Varma) to es­tab­lish an al­liance with Lan­nis­ter ri­vals in Dorne, Olenna had lit­tle time for the three im­pul­sive sis­ters the Sand Snakes. “Do shut up, dear,” she dis­missed one be­fore turn­ing to another. “Any­thing from you? No? Good. Let the grown women speak.”

But far more than smirk­ing comic re­lief, Olenna was one of the sharpest oper­a­tors in the “Game,” and one of the ear­li­est in­di­ca­tors of the show’s bal­ance of power tilt­ing to­ward women as the se­ries went on. She took a mea­sure of pride in telling her grand­daugh­ter Mar­gaery (Natalie Dormer) that she was re­spon­si­ble for poi­son­ing her hate­ful groom-to-be Jof­frey on her wed­ding day, and that plan took cen­ter stage again in the fi­nal mo­ments of Sun­day’s episode.

Seem­ing un­sur­prised by the out­come of the bat­tle (“It was never our forte”), the black-clad Olenna was far from vanquished as she waited for Jaime in her cham­ber. In her last mo­ments, she made time to in­sult him, his son and es­pe­cially Cer­sei, while con­fess­ing to a fail­ure of imag­i­na­tion with re­gard to the new queen.

“She’s a dis­ease, I re­gret my role in spread­ing it. You will too,” she said be­fore read­ily gulp­ing the poi­soned wine he handed her. Olenna was al­most out of time but just get­ting started.

“I’d hate to die like your son,” she be­gan, and then lin­gered over the de­tails of Jof­frey’s death in “the Pur­ple Wed­ding.” “Not at all what I in­tended. You see, I’d never seen the poi­son work be­fore.

“Tell Cer­sei. I want her to know it was me,” she said, look­ing up at him in de­fi­ance. All Jaime could do was add up her ploy’s re­sult­ing trial for his brother Tyrion and ev­ery­thing that be­fell the Lan­nis­ters af­ter­ward be­fore leav­ing with­out a word. Even in death, the Queen of Thorns never lost her bite. And still got the last word.

He­len Sloan HBO

JAIME (Niko­laj Coster-Wal­dau) and Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) have one fi­nal con­fronta­tion in “GOT.”

Ma­call B. Po­lay HBO

NATALIE DORMER por­trayed Lady Olenna’s grand­daugh­ter, Mar­gaery.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.