Since Buckeye already gave a great treatment of the first episode I just want to add a little more fuel to the discussion fire.
On the subject of Davos, for some reason I do feel affection for him despite what Buckeye has pointed out (namely that we haven’t spent enough time with him). Perhaps the creators erred by not giving him a brief scene in Episode 10 last year to let us know he was still alive and show him grieving over his son. One observation I would agree with though is that the viewer has had to conclude for themselves why he is so fiercely loyal to Stannis. Does he believe in the laws of Westeros so strongly that he simply thinks Stannis deserves to and should be on the throne by rightful claim? Is he appreciative of Stannis taking on his son as a high-ranking soldier? Is it his own ambition for a crabber’s son to become the Hand of the King? Perhaps all of the above, but we haven’t seen much indication of what it is. At this point I would contend that Davos is as stupidly rigid in his beliefs of what is right and wrong as Ned Stark was, and I admire his loyalty the same way. We saw what happened to Ned though, and Davos doesn’t fair much better here as he is presumably scheduled to be burned alive.
On the pacing issue that Buckeye touched on, this episode gives me great hope. In Andy Greenwald’s podcast with Weiss and Benioff they remarked that they had 27 to 30 “principle characters” on the show. However in this episode we don’t see Arya/Gendry, Theon, The Hound, Bran/Hodor and co., and I’m sure others I am leaving out. I am exceedingly happy with this decision, as I think they are learning that the show simply isn’t long enough for them to address each character on a weekly basis. While I would love for 2 hours of Thrones every week, it seems like they are learning how to focus each hour better.
One cheesy thing I want to point out: the gag of introducing an intimidating guy as a character only to do a bait-and-switch later is a little tiresome. Batman Begins does this with the audience thinking Raz Al Ghoul (or however it’s spelled) is that Asian ninja only to learn later that it was actually Liam Neeson. It’s a little transparent at this point.
In contrast to Buckeye, I actually thought the Tyrian-Tywin scene was the best of the episode. As Buckeye pointed out from our conversation last night, I think the main takeaway from this scene is that there is literally nothing Tyrian can do that would win his father’s affection. He is a dwarf, he ‘killed’ Tywin’s wife, and he brings shame on the family by regularly associating with whores. This was a powerfully acted scene as we see Peter Dinklage struggle not to break down in front of Tywin’s hurtful words, and Charles Dance convey the power of the Lannister patriarch. He seems like a man completely consumed with family image and Tyrian does not fit within the mold.
Some other observations:
When one of the Unsullied’s nipple was cut off it blew my mind. Classic moment you can talk about the next day. Remind’s me of the torture device they used in Harranhall (lighting the bucket with the rat in it) in terms of sheer creativity.
Every time I see Jorah Mormont I think of Sir Richard Carlyle from Downton Abbey which will never not be funny.
I’m a little confused on timing. Is each storyline supposed to be happening simultaneously? We pick up seemingly immediately after last season in the North with both the rangers’ storyline and Jon Snow getting to meet Mance Rayder. However, clearly more time has passed in Dany’s storyline as they’ve traveled to another land and the dragons are getting bigger. King’s Landing also seems to be later in time as Tyrion’s wound is now a scar and the Tyrells have made it to King’s Landing already. I don’t know if this is really a problem, but it just seems like the North’s story should be farther along no?