TV Review – Game of Thrones S1E2 – The Kingsroad
Whatever reservations I may have had regarding this series with the first episode were cleansed with this week’s installment. To say that they knocked it out of the park would be a massive understatement. This episode SOLIDIFIES what makes the series a standout and that is the vivid nature of the intrigue between the Stark and Lannister families. The seething discord between the two needs to feel genuine for the series to work and I’ll be damned if by the end of the episode they didn’t establish that element as firmly under control. The little son-of-a-bitch playing Joffrey exudes a level of pretentious elitism that you cannot help but despise and young Maisie Williams portrays Anya Stark with a state of stone-willed confidence that she seems poised to become the breakout star of the series.
I cannot truly explain how well produced this show is. It’s been quite a while since I looked at the source material. I was fairly young and only at the beginning of my foray into fantasy literature. The book was overwhelming to the point that I never ventured onto the second novel. I plan to rectify that soon, as the show has more than rekindled my interest in the books. But no matter how faithful it is or isn’t to the source material, the show stands on its own as an amazing work of television excellence. The actors all portray their characters with refreshing zeal and it never comes off as overly hokey or disorienting as some fantasy adaptations can and often do. I haven’t felt this engaged in the – of a show on television since The Wire or Deadwood. I suppose HBO has some secret that I’m just not privy to.
The one element that keeps cropping up is the focus on sex, sex, all the time, sex. The King reminisces about past sexual conquests with starry-eyed glee. Drogo’s new bride learns the secrets of carnal pleasure in a pseudo-sapphoerotic display of lesbianic ho-mance. The major crux of the conflict comes as a result of a young boy witnessing some vividly portrayed incestuous relations for Crom’s sake. All of this might seem like they’re going overboard in attempts to draw in the over-sexed adolescent male demographic but at the same time none of the sex in this series feels gratuitous to me, instead coming from an organic point of view. Sexual norms and taboos are part of what drive the political landscape of the seven kingdoms. We learn in this episode that the Night’s Watch conscripts rapists into their ranks as an alternative to punitive castration. The prevalence of sex in this series is not an attempt to titillate, in most cases, but it is instead an undercurrent that is always in motion to provide the narrative with a tie to the basic nature of human existence.
In the simplest possible terms, this is a series for mature audiences with themes that run deeper than many will give creedence to simply because of the genre. I hope that the stigma wears off and more converts flock to the show because it really is a true gem of modern television and I’m saying that with only two episodes having aired.