Welcome to Westeros, where nothing good ever happens to anyone. Ever. Well sometimes people get laid, but that's about it.
As I promised earlier, I won't be spoiling the books, but there are spoilers ahead for "Garden of Bones," the latest bone-sawing, chest-devouring, rape-with-a-sceptre-ing(?) episode of Game of Thrones.
I was recently reading Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's wonderful historical novel about Tudor England -- the very same historical setting that inspired Game of Thrones. There's this moment in the book when the narrator, Thomas Cromwell (you have to read the book ), thinks about how people in those days loved watching executions. They loved watching people being burned alive, or torn limb from limb by galloping horses or whatever. And I thought, ugh, people back then were disgusting. But then I saw this episode and thought -- well, that was arrogant of me; people haven't really changed at all, in a certain way. We now have the special effects technology to bring entertainment back to the Middle Ages. And no one is actually killed, which places us above reproach. But I don't really feel good about anything after I've seen a rat eat through someone's chest, even if it's simulated.*
In contrast, in the scene when Daenerys is greeted by the Thirteen outside the gates of Qarth, I was charmed. The magical eccentricity of the gatekeepers, combined with an undercurrent of peril, were reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. And it was just dialogue (this, though hilarious, is not what actually happens). No one had their chest eaten. It was a relief, an enjoyable moment.
Likewise the confrontation between Renly and Stannis. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of viewers had forgotten that they are brothers, and it is hard to believe. It was only in this episode that Renly actually seemed like the swaggering, confident, king-ready character that he is in the books. This is crucial, because otherwise why would so many people rally around the youngest brother? He has to have something working for him, and I don't mean the Knight of Flowers.
But my favorite moment was the brief one between Tyrion and Sansa, when he tells her "You may survive us all." It's a different perspective on Sansa -- instead of a whining victim, he sees her as a survivor. But as a reader of the books, can I just say -- in all of this, where is the Hound?! Sandor Clegane has an important connection to Sansa in the books... but I'm starting to wonder if I imagined it.
Time will tell and winter is coming, and all of that.
*I might not have the details of the rat-torture method exactly right. Even for the sake of this blog, dear Reader, I can't watch that stuff too closely.