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Monday, 9 May 2011

Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 4 "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things" Review

Game of Thrones has made an impressive start to its first season. The show has captivated me right from the beginning. HBO has obviously put a lot of effort into the show and it shows, with beautiful and varied scenery and a sweeping score. What sets this show apart from any other in my view though, is the characters and the effort that is put into developing them. Unlike a lot of tv shows, which take seasons for us to fully invest in the characters, Game of Thrones has already given us many well-round individuals, many who we love, some who we hate. Never before have I been so entranced by the characters of a show at this early stage and at the end of the day its the characters that keep me coming back for more.

Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things is another great episode which develops the characters we already know, and introduces us to even more new characters, one in particular who I ended up loving by the end of the episode.

I thought the start of the episode was interesting and I wonder what is the significance of the third eye on the crow? It was great seeing Tyrion again so early in the episode and I really can't praise Peter Dinklage enough for his portrayal of the character. He is undoubtedly my favourite character in the series and I know I'm not the only one. Despite his stature, he owns a room when he enters it and he definitely makes his presence felt. I loved the scene with Tyrion and Bran, his sympathy for people like Bran and Snow is one of the reasons why he is such a great character, he may be a rogue and a scoundrel in many ways, but its clear that he has a good heart and he's not afraid to show it. He's very funny too, his sarcasm and cutting remarks are always amusing and he's definitely very intelligent. I loved how he knew straight away that he was being lied too and that Lady Stark is not in Winterfell. The reason Tyrion is beloved by so many who watch the series is that he is undoubtedly the most three dimensional character in the show, with so many nuances and different aspects to his character, what's there to hate?

The introduction of Sam was fantastic, and by the end of this episode he was already one of my favourite characters. Here was a character who couldn't fight, hated heights and was by his own admission a complete coward. I, like Snow, sympathised with him straight away. His back-story was horrific and it was impossible not to feel sorry for him.What truly made me love his character though is despite his fears, despite his perilous situation, he still does his best and he still can have a smile and a laugh. He might not be able to fight, or to do pretty much anything useful at the moment, but he is one of those characters that brightens a scene just by being in it. His scene talking to Snow was great and it was nice having someone besides Tyrion to provide some humour. His good-spirited nature is just what this episode needed to lift what sometimes feels like a perpetual gloomy atmosphere.

Speaking of Snow, he continues to impresses and is another character that I am very fond of. He really is a likable character just like his father. Its great to see how he stands up for Sam no matter what anyone else thinks. He's earned the respect of all his comrades who hated him before this which is apparent in this episode. His empathy and how he treats people with respect set him apart. Snow is a born leader, when he talks people listen, yet he is also just one of the men, a brother, a friend, willing to do anything to protect his own. Like Tyrion, he is a wonderful individual, who despite his status, proves time and time again that he is a great character. 

Surprisingly the storyline across the sea does not detract from the main storyline at all and I look forward to seeing the story of Daenerys and Viserys everytime. I know I sound like a broken record, but thats all down to the strength and depth of their characters. I've loved the growth of Daenerys character since the first episode. She was basically a slave to her brothers whims and desires so its fantastic to see her stand up to her brother and for herself throughout the episode. She is a completely different person, she is more confident, self-assured and commanding. One of my favourite moments of the episode was when she hit Viserys after an altercation between them and then threatened to cut his hands off. The look on his face was just priceless and I cant wait to see what happens next. Viserys grows more vile every episode, he's just a character you love to hate. The bath scene and the talk of dragons was interesting, and for a minute I thought we were seeing a softer and kinder side to Viserys. He reverts to his old self soon enough though and I for one cannot wait to see him get his comeuppance someday!

Ned is someone I really felt sorry for here, you can tell he's not used to all the political machinations and intrigue that have enveloped the capital. He's just not cut out for this life, he's just too honest, honorable and straightforward for it. To be honest I didn't find his storyline of tracking down the former Hands killer particularly exciting but there were some good moments and Sean Bean makes Ned such a likable character that I always enjoy watching him. The moment where all the spies are revealed by Little Finger to Ned is interesting as it shows truly what a treacherous place Kings Landing is. Little Finger also had another great moment in the episode at the jousting competition speaking to Ned's daughter Sansa and he is definitely an intriguing character, who's motives like the man remain shrouded in mystery. I enjoyed the brief scene between Ned and his youngest girl Arya, who we saw a lot of in the last episode. Her attitude is refreshing and unconventional, yet her father understands her and the deep bond between the two of them is plain to see and enjoyable to watch. Ned's discovery of the Queen's illegitimate son was interesting and I wonder what it will mean for the future.

There were lots of other great scenes in the episode, ones I particularly enjoyed were the talk between Jaime Lannister and Jory about battles they fought. We haven't seen much of Jaime yet and I hope that changes in the future, he's an engaging character and there is still a lot of mystery around him as yet. The scene with the white direwolf was tense, it was great to see Snow and the other characters sticking up for Sam despite their disdain for him. The jousting was definitely exciting and the death scene was horrific, in a good way. One of my favourite scenes though was Thorne's speech to Snow and Sam. It vividly portrayed the horror and danger that awaited them and the other men, and even more telling is Thorne's demeanor. He acts like a man who has seen every horror imaginable and this leaves even more of an impression than his speech does. Of course all these scenes were trumped by the ending. Lady Stark won me over in this scene, I never thought I would see the day where someone would outwit Tyrion but the way she did it was just brilliant and I can't wait to see what happens between them in the next episode.

I did have one big issue with this episode. A lot of the information that was provided simply went over my head. Detailed histories and accounts of former events were difficult to follow. I've never read the books so its entirely possible people who have read the novels had no problem with it but for me it was hard to keep up and retain all the information provided and I'd be interested to see if other people who never read the book felt the same. Also there was a distinct lack of action in this episode and while I adore the character building the show is doing, a little more excitement and swordplay would be great. Its only a very minor complaint though as like I've said I've enjoyed the character-building so much I've hardly noticed the lack of action!

On the whole though, like I've already said this episode did a fantastic job on developing the characters further and its a worthy addition to what has been a great season so far. Although the info-dump was a bit too much for me, this episode is just another reason why Game of Thrones is the most exciting new tv show right now and for those who haven't watched it yet, I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out.

Review Score: 8.5/10

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  1. Saw your post on my VF recap. I do have some thoughts, if you're interested. If so, let me know how to contact you.

  2. Good Review, keep it up

  3. Thanks for the kind words X! Ya I'd definitely be interested Mike, thanks for checking out my review, I'd really appreciate getting some constructive criticism on my writing. You can contact me at my email address

  4. There will be a lot more action in the next episode and the ones after that.

  5. That's good to hear tja624, like I said the character building is brilliant but I cant wait to see some action too. In films, tv shows, novels, any kind of media the action is a lot more exciting if you are invested in the characters stories so I really can't wait to see the next few episodes and what the writers have in store for us.