Game of Thrones recap: Give us Tyrion with a sprinkle of dragons and call it a day.

By: Andrew Evans

Composers, Pet Stores and Little Big Men: Your Week 1 Game of Thrones Scorecard

Its title suggests that Game of Thrones is some sort of fun, ongoing competition – y’know, a game! Like music chairs! (Except with only one chair, and it’s made of swords, and everyone wants to kill each other over it.)Every game needs some way of evaluating who’s winning or who’s already won, and that’s hard to come by in Westeros, a kingdom in the midst of a seemingly un-ending, miserable conflict between grumpy people with unsavory sexual mores. So, in the spirit of competition – and because everyone loves a good column gimmick – each week we’ll be scoring this Game by assigning arbitrary “points” to arbitrary “players” based on arbitrary “criteria” we make up as we go along.

The season 2 premiere of Game of Thrones had a lot to get done – catching up with existing factions, introducing new ones, and giving its rapidly growing fan base their pound of flesh and 10 pounds of breasts. By all accounts, it succeeded. So without further ado, let’s get to the scorecard.

Ramin Djawadi – 19 mournful oboes (out of a possible 25)

Everyone’s favourite Iranian-German film composer will apparently have his work cut out for him this season. Thrones’ awesome opening titles zip around a map of Westeros, taking viewers to each location that will be featured in the episode while Djawadi’s title theme works them up into a geeky froth for the episode. It’s an extremely handy tour guide, especially in a world whose characters are deeply concerned with their geographic roots. (See this week’s “We’re more North than you!” argument between attentive wildling daddy Craster and The Dad From Braveheart.) But judging from what we saw in the premiere, that theme’s going to have to get a lot longer to cover all the cities and regions that Westeros encompasses.

While the first season of the show felt fairly epic in scope, it’s quickly evident that season two is set to dwarf it. We’re no longer jumping just between The Wall, King’s Landing, Winterfell and whatever desert Daenerys Targaryen was riding Conan the Barbarian in at the time; now we’re going beyond The Wall, we’re visiting Stannis Baratheon’s Pyro Beach Party in Dragonstone and it sounds like we’ll be meeting the failed rebels of House Greyjoy in the Iron Islands. It’s a big world to keep track of, and only getting bigger, so Djawadi’s going to have to milk that “DAH-duh duh-duh-DAH-duh” for all it’s worth.

(Maybe he should retain the services of this guy.)

Robb Stark – 3 William Wallaces out of 4

While most writers like to point to Tyrion Lannister as the closest thing the series has to a hero, swashbuckling separatist Robb certainly has a fair claim to the title: what with his noble quest to avenge his father, love of his siblings and steely, Lannister-intimidating gaze. (Okay, the angry 200-lb wolf might have played a role in that last bit.) The eldest son of the obliviously moralistic – and now headless (SPOILER!) – Ned Stark, Robb has taken quite well to the warring business, posting an impressive 3-0 rookie record on the battlefield and causing a bit of Linsanity amongst the northern nobles, who seem to think their new leader could lead them to victory and sovereignty from the Lannister’s Aryan Nation.

Child and Pet Care – 83 out of 1000

I suppose when your main concern is parading around banners and slaughtering opposing families, nurturing falls by the wayside, but boy, Westeros doesn’t seem like a great place for dependents. This week in parenting and pet care saw:

  • Dany realizing that baby dragon-ownership isn’t all terror and destruction, as the poor little fellas actually need nourishment! It doesn’t appear that Pet Valu has expanded to Westeros as yet. Much like getting a dog, which seems like a great idea until you realize they need constant attention and shit everywhere, or getting a cat, which seems like a great idea until you realize they don’t even like you, it’s challenging to nurture a flying, potentially fire-breathing giant lizard when you’re wandering something called “The Red Waste” with a bunch of homeless horsemen and gypsies in tow. Speaking of…

  • Man, HBO and horses. A week after Luck ended forever after three horses died on set – a tragedy made even worse because the show was fantastic – Dany’s favourite wedding present, a beautiful white stallion, had enough of wandering in the desert, collapsed and died. Poor guy never even got into his stud phase.

  • Loathsome Queen Cersei slapped Abhorrent King Joffrey, allegedly for his repugnant style of leadership, but probably because he appears to be stealing her dresses. (God, though, it’s fun watching Joffrey’s relatives slap him.)

  • Worst of all, the King’s Landing city guards displayed a knack for child-rearing that would horrify even Roger Sterling. Not only did they mercilessly slaughter every boy they thought may have sprung from the late King Robert’s fruitful loins, did you see the one guard carrying the baby by the ankle?! (Serious question, though: Were they killing all non-blondes in the city or boys they actually knew to be Robert’s offspring? Is there some Royal Registry for illegitimate children that they go by?)

  • The only thing saving this category from a score of zero is Robb Stark’s aforementioned pet direwolf, which has now grown so enormous and menacing that it can make the unflappable Sir Jaime Lannister wince. Possibly even a honey badger.

Tyrion Lannister – 5 Emmys out of 5

Since we last saw warm-hearted hedonist Tyrion Lannister, Peter Dinklage has landed an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and was profiled in the New York Times Magazine. As Dan Kois’s piece – really pretty essential reading for Thrones fans, which, if you’re reading this, you probably are – points out, it’s a juicy role for a dwarf actor, so often forced into gimmicky and demeaning comic roles. Dinklage just crushes every frame, every line. No matter how intelligently written it may be, it’s tough to make high fantasy dialogue feel human and relatable, littered as it is with imagined places, people and honorifics. Dinklage makes it look easy, and consequently he quickly became the show’s breakout star, and in the absence of professional dramatic dyer Sean Bean, its face.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are acutely aware of the growing cult of Tyrion, and gave him plenty to work with in the premiere. He struts into King’s Landing, bodyguard Bronn and exotic ladyfriend/sex machine Shae in tow, and immediately commenced being awesome. An unabashed sympathizer of the Starks, he offers Sansa his sympathies, tells Joffrey to show some respect, then walks into the council chambers and does the feet-on-the-table routine before revealing that he’s the new Hand of the King. He finds time to admonish his sister with the episode’s funniest line (“…it’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones…”) and its most cutting (“Must be odd for you, being the disappointing child.”)

In a show where most of the characters are blinded by lust, greed, anger, jealousy, vengeance or all of the above, Tyrion is an unusually clear-headed, self-aware man who actually understands how these games work. Much like the audience, he sees what’s going on behind all the scheming, slaughtering and sexing, and uses that sense to stay one step ahead of everyone else. He’s the smallest man on the show, but he still manages to dwarf even the most powerful figures he comes up against (save maybe for his father.) We can’t help but cheer for the underdog, the little guy, and watching Tyrion Lannister talk his way around the sleazy elite of Westeros is a joy matched by little else on TV. Here’s hoping we get plenty more of it in what looks to be an excellent season of television.

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