Monday, May 30, 2011
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." - The big line of dialogue from Cercei that sums up the series.
And there we have it. Points of no return for all of the main characters. All of the build up, mysteries, and intrigues, came to a head in flashes of swords, spilled poisoned wine, and declarations of war surrounded by flames.
Without ceremony, Game of Thrones just comes out and has Ned bluntly state his discoveries to Cercei's face: Joffrey and all of her children are indeed Jaime's, not Robert's. Incest between twins begat three abominations. I liked how the scene started with Cercei's golden head blotting out the son with her sounding concerned for Ned: "You're hurt." Cercei has shown brief flashes of compassion (feigned?), but always snaps right back to ruthless form.
We finally met Tywin Lannister and he's different from how you expect him to be. The father of Cercei, Jaime, and Tyrion is shown getting his hands dirty butchering a stag (nice metaphor). But he's more practical and even disappointed in his son Jaime for not acting intelligently (Tyrion, the "lowest of the Lannisters" has the brains) and for wasting all his talents as the "glorified bodyguard for two kings, one a madman, the other a drunk."
Thankfully omitted from the show was Cercei's more graphic explanation for how it feels when her twin brother is fucking her, and the outlandish moment when Cercei comes onto Ned and offers a (sexual) alliance between their houses! Cercei is less willing to prostitute herself on the show. The scene with Tywin and Jaime doesn't exist in the book. Also new on the show is scene between Littlefinger and the whores where Littlefinger essentially narrates his origin story and foretells how he's going to fuck over Ned Stark, which he does. I'm also pretty sure but not positive the scene with Theon and the wildling woman at Winterfell was new. Joffrey being in the room when Robert was dying was also not in the book. Renly openly declaring that he should be king also wasn't in the book.
I love how in Game of Thrones, people make plans, thinking what they're doing is - well, maybe not right but for the best (in their best interests, usually) - but things go horribly wrong and everything turns to shit.
Robert sending assassins after Daenerys eventually forces Khal Drogo to reverse his earlier disinterest in invading Westeros. Instead he makes a bad ass declaration of war against Westeros, and Daenerys looks proud, in love, and pretty turned on. Funny how, considering the way it started, Drogo and Daenerys are probably the most loving man-woman relationship in the series.
So maybe Robert should have listened to Ned about Daenerys, but Ned isn't always right. A lot of people came to Ned urging him to take action against Cercei but Ned is stubborn. Ned also didn't tell Robert about Cercei and Jaime. I like Ned a lot, he's a good, honorable man. Game of Thrones doesn't reward good honor. Ned got good and fucked over. Cercei tearing up Robert's will was cold.
I also really like the debate about line of succession. Who should be king? Stannis Baratheon? No one likes him. But he's rightful heir after Robert - if Joffrey is exposed as a bastard. Then again, as Renly points out, why should that matter? Robert had no right to the throne, he seized it in combat. Who's best for the Iron Throne? There's no right answer. Who's not best for the Iron Throne? Joffrey. We can already see that. Ned Stark looks good and fucked, all right.
Friday, May 27, 2011
** SPOILERS **
Passion Play is the coming out party for Megan Fox as a serious, dramatic actress. Listen, no one will ever confuse Fox with Meryl Streep - I mean, what's more important, being an Academy Award-winning actress or FHM's Sexiest Woman Alive 2008? - but in Passion Play, Fox tries. She really, really tries. Fox earnestly gives her best acting performance in a film yet. Whatever Passion Play is, and good it ain't, Fox isn't to blame. In some strange movie world that vaguely resembles reality, leathery Mickey Rourke plays a down on his luck musician. A local crime lord (Bill Murray!) wants Rourke dead. Rourke stumbles upon a bizarre carnival that for some reason pitched its big top in the middle of a desert. Roaming backstage through the freak show, Rourke encounters Fox, "the bird lady", who happens to have a set of real wings strapped to her back. Is she an angel? She looks like an angel. Fox and Rourke literally bust out of the big top and run off together. Raised as a carny all her life, Fox is introduced to the "real world" of crashing in sleazy motels and seeing Mickey Rourke with his shirt off. Even while Rourke falls for Fox, he cuts a deal with Murray to put Fox's talents to work for him. Naturally, the deal goes sideways and Rourke must find a way to save Fox and redeem himself. Passion Play is just plain weird; the same material in the hands of a genius maverick like Terry Gilliam could have been a stylistic wonder of a head trip instead of a head scratcher. (The scenes involving the carnival is reminsicent of Gilliam's stylistically wondrous head trip The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.) The effects of Fox's wings are actually really well done in some scenes when she's standing around but all that goes out the window when we're shown Fox flying. Though we're teased throughout by Fox's potent sex appeal, Passion Play still fails to let the pigeons loose.
But I'll say this for Passion Play, it contains the greatest reference to ALF in the history of cinema:
But I'll say this for Passion Play, it contains the greatest reference to ALF in the history of cinema:
Thursday, May 26, 2011
THE HANGOVER, PART II
** SPOILERS **
"It happened again."
When terrorists invaded an airport in Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Bruce Willis has a meta moment where he asks the audience, "How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?" The Hangover, Part II knows the honest answer: Because the first movie made a butt-ton of money. Once again, the same thing does happen to the same guys twice; before Ed Helms' wedding to Jamie Chung in Thailand, he, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifinakis - the Wolfpack - find themselves in a demolished Bangkok hotel room (the same hotel Leonardo DiCaprio stayed in at the start of The Beach?) unable to remember the debauchery of the night before. ("What is wrong with you guys?" asks Sasha Barrese, the wife of their buddy Doug. Doug - the eternally bemused Justin Bartha - is once again left out of the chaos, but this time he's conscious and relaxed at their beach resort, so he's good.) In Doug's place as the missing member of the Wolfpack (who's also missing a member) is Mason Lee as Chung's little brother Teddy. Also back is Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow, his tiny mushroom penis heralding the arrival of the rest of him. Bangkok is a terrific setting for Part II, lending an air of beauty, danger and the truly bizarre even Las Vegas can't match. The plot moves in grim lockstep with the first movie's; to their credit Cooper and Helms are gung ho in keeping the pace and energy of Part II hurtling along, battling against the constant deja vu. Cooper seemed determined to have a ball making this sequel no matter what and practically wills everyone else to do the same. The bewildered bad boy camraderie of the Wolfpack carries the day, but the quips in Part II aren't nearly as memorable or quotable as its predecessor's. Galifianakis offers moments of his patented inspired lunacy, but there are just as many moments of the Wolfpack together where Galifiankis looks disinterested at the arbitrariness of the proceedings. (My favorite joke of the whole movie, however, involved a speedboat running aground but Galifianakis dropping the anchor anyway.) The montage of photos of the night they can't remember playing over the end credits was even raunchier and funnier than the first movie's. Still, The Hangover was lightning in a bottle. In trying to recapture that lightning, The Hangover, Part II pulls out all the stops: they found the most exotic bottle and performed exotic rain dances in the most exotic beach during an exotic torrential thunderstorm, but try as they might, no lightning, just sparks.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Wherein Viserys Targaryen the Beggar King received his golden crown. It played better than I hoped from what was in the book. Also, big ups to Harry Lloyd. His performance infused genuine pitiable humanity into Viserys, who was much more of a selfish, deluded one note character in the book. In fact, I'd say Viserys is the biggest idiot in the book.
On the show, Harry Lloyd gave Viserys more dimensions, especially when he told Mormont how the "greatest dynasty the world has ever known" has been on his shoulders since he was five years old. And Viserys was never up to it. "No one has ever given me what they gave her in there." I felt more pity for him than Daenerys did the way it played on the show.
But it's the truth: "He was no dragon!"
Everything regarding Tyrion in the Eyrie outsmarting his captors and earning his freedom was note-perfect. Loved his smug courtsey bow at the end. He could have gone on and on "confessing his sins" as far as I was concerned. That was hilarious stuff, all of it true, no doubt.
Man, do I hate Lysa Arryn and her creepy little tit-sucking son.
Stuff I noticed was different or new from the book, though there wasn't too much new this week, I don't think:
Viserys' conversation with Mormont while trying to steal the dragon eggs where he calls Mormont out for secretly lusting after Daenerys. I don't recall that happening in the book, and it's not until book two that Daenerys herself realizes Mormont wants her and we get the story of Mormont and his wife.
There was also the scene with Theon Greyjoy and his prostitute on the turnip truck.
The most significant new scene was Robert hunting with Barrister, Renly and that Lannister kid where Renly bitched Robert out and went storming off.
However, I'm rather shocked the show omitted the crazy ass sex scene between Daenerys and Kahl Drogo with all the Dothraki watching that followed Daenerys eating the heart and naming her son Rhaego.
Loved the training scene with Syrio and Arya. I already think Syrio is a better teacher to Arya than Obi-Wan Kenobi was to Luke Skywalker.
Great scene with Sansa and Arya where Arya says, "Joffey's a Baratheon. His sigil is the stag, not the lion." And that clicked a light switch in Ned's head. So, have you guessed the Secret That Got Jon Arryn Killed yet?
"The seed is strong!"
Finally, my Tweets for the week:
No one has done anything grosser to get in good with their in-laws than Daenerys Targaryen eating that bloody heart. #goldencrown
Making the Eight. If King Robert added a Dothraki horse girl to his list of conquests, would that be Making the Neigh-ne? #goldencrown
Poor Theon Greyjoy, watching his prostitute ride away. If his last name were Sumner, he could write a song about it. #roxanne #goldencrown
Saturday, May 21, 2011
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES
** SPOILERS **
In his fourth cinematic adventure, Captain Jack Sparrow sets sail for the Fountain of Youth, but nearly everything in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides feels old and tired. The prevailing feeling of On Stranger Tides is "here we go again". Swash your buckles and avast ye landlubbers, a pirate's life never ends.
As Jack Sparrow ("There should be a 'Captain' in there somewhere."), Johnny Depp has long since had his pirate schtick down pat. In On Stranger Tides, Jack swash-bungles his way through yet another absurd escapade filled to the brim with Saturday morning cartoon derring-do, the macabre and the bizarre. As ever, Captain Jack Sparrow is an impossible-to-kill buffoon-savant; a mad genius at improvisation, a live action Bugs Bunny in mascara and frills. Anyone in the movie or in the audience who is still surprised by Jack's antics simply did not see any of the three prior Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
In On Stranger Tides, Jack, his perpetual frienemy, a newly peglegged Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and loyal first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally) are the only veterans keelhauled from the original trilogy. The new characters include Penelope Cruz as Angelica, the daughter of the infamous Blackbeard (Ian McShane). They want the Fountain of Youth to save Blackbeard's soul from all the evil he's done, ever mind all the evil Blackbeard is currently doing and Angelica is helping him do to find the Fountain of Youth. Let's not think about such things, love.
From an entertaining starting point in "Londontown", England, complete with Jack having a face to face with King George IV, a quick pint with his dad (Keith Richards), and a brief (she thought) makeout session with Dame Judi Dench, the pirates set sail to... where did they go? Were they still on Earth? To find the Fountain of Youth, they first needed to acquire a mermaid from a place called White Cap Bay, then travel across what looked like the Island from Lost, to a place called San Miguel. Honestly, where in the world did the second half of the movie take place? And how come when they found the Fountain of Youth, it looked suspiciously like The Guardian of Forever from classic Star Trek?
"I am the Guardian of Forever. Or am I the Fountain of Youth?"
The most memorable sequence of On Stranger Tides involves the mermaids, enchanting creatures who fight like velociraptors of the sea and can bring a pirate ship down en masse. Cast as mermaids are the most gorgeous women the production could find, with Gemma Massey as the first mermaid we encounter, and Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the mermaid the pirates capture. A mermaid's tears are part of a simplistic ritual involving two silver chalices and water from the Fountain, drinking from which gives... what, exactly? Is it eternal life or just the years from the person who didn't drink from the chalice with the mermaid's tears? Ponce De Leon is dead, so it must be the latter, right? What a gyp.
Perhaps upon realizing the Fountain of Youth did not actually offer immortality, Jack reversed his previous goal of attaining immortality for himself. When Elizabeth Swann sacrificed Jack to the Kraken at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and he had to escape Davy Jones' Locker in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, his own mortality was foremost on Jack's mind. Achieving immortality is why he set sail for the Fountain of Youth to begin with. Instead, he chooses to turn "immortality" over to Penelope Cruz, whom we are asked to believe is Jack's one true love, but we don't. Neither does Jack, who ditches her at the end without regret.
Cruz has the unenviable task of following Keira Knightley as the main girl in a Pirates movie; she's game for the action but her character would have best been marooned on a desert isle much sooner. As Blackbeard, McShane suffers from the same limitations. Blackbeard is possessed of fearsome supernatural powers -- these seem limited to animating the ropes on a pirate ship. Blackbeard also can turn people into zombies but the zombies can talk and don't act like zombies at all, they're just uglier than the ugly pirates. Blackbeard is neither menacing nor ultimately very interesting; he even lacked the pathos Bill Nighy brought to Davy Jones, pining for his true love Calypso. There's also a Christian Missionary who falls for the mermaid Blackbeard captures, in a profoundly uninteresting romance subplot that ends the same way Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah's does in Splash.
Compared to the previous Pirates, with the undead skeleton crewmen of the Black Pearl, the monstrous Kraken (sorely missed - God, do I miss the Kraken!), the motley menagerie of Pirate Lords, and the macabre sea goddess Calypso, On Stranger Tides is a more modest (read: dull) affair. Imagination seems to be sorely lacking, with the final confrontation at the Fountain of Youth taking place in a cave not unlike the final battle in Curse of the Black Pearl. Speaking of the Black Pearl, Jack's beloved pirate ship remains shrunken in a bottle by Blackbeard (oh yes, he had the magical power to shrink pirate ships into bottles), giving Jack license to embark on a fifth Pirates movie. That shivers me timbers.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
This is the halfway mark of the season and business has appropriately picked up.
I really liked the scene where Bran was being quizzed on the great houses, their sigils, and their family mottos. I kind of gave myself a similar quiz a while back. Nerd alert!
In the list of most disturbing scenes in Game of Thrones, we have a new number one most disturbing: The hysterical, over the top scene in the Eyrie when we met Catelyn's sister Lysa, whose son is still breastfeeding at like age 10. Everything about that scene was beyond fucked up.
The scene with Robert and Cercei as they discussed how their loveless marriage is the only thing holding the tenuous peace in the realm together is the best moment in the series so far. For a brief moment, there was almost warmth between them. There was certainly understanding of who the other is, and how the ghost of Ned's sister has always been between then and their marriage was a hopeless sham from day one. From a writing, acting, directing, editing standpoint - everything - that was just incredibly well done.
That scene wasn't in the book. Nor was the intimate scene with Renly Baratheon and the Knight of Flowers when the Knight pushed the idea of Renly becoming King after Robert. Renly's homosexual? That's news to me. Also new was the scene with Theon and Roz the prostitute.
Holy crap, there was a shit ton of nudity in this episode and Daenerys wasn't even in it. Also, a shit ton of violence. But just enough of Arya being awesome.
So, has anyone who is only watching the show put the pieces of Ned's investigation together as to why Jon Arryn was killed?
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Poor Tyrion. All he wanted when he walked into the Inn at the Crossroads was a room, some booze, a roast foul (and a whore), and next thing he knows he's got half a dozen swords aimed at him. Impin' ain't easy.
Catelyn's speech at the end where she cited Bran as aged 10 settled a little bit of a non-mystery regarding how much older the Stark children are on the show than in the book. Bran is 7 in the book, so he and the rest of the children seem to be about three years older on the show. I definitely think aging the children was a smart move; things work better live-action with the kids being older.
Poor Jon Snow and Sam are both virgins and forced into a life of celibacy. Bummer. I liked all the other recruits taking dives for Sam in training out of fear of Ghost ripping them apart as they slept.
Daenerys is coming into her own and finally discovered the most important non-sexual position-related fact of her young life: Viserys is not a dragon but he is a pathetic tool.
I would estimate about 40% of the episode was comprised of scenes not in the book. A bunch of fascinating new stuff to see, fleshing a few things out while still hitting all the high points remarkably well. I'm loving the scenes not in the book. They're an extra treat - fleshing out stuff only hinted at in the book. It's great to be surprised every episode when you "know what's going to happen". And I have no issues with the changes; I'm generally finding them to be improvements. The show and the book together form a really complete picture of the story.
The new scenes include: The sexy bath tub moment with Viserys and Daenerys' slave girl and their conversations about dragons. The moment with Jory and Jaime Lannister outside King Robert's chamber was new, as was the confrontation between Ned and Cercei in Ned's office. The show continues to do a bang up job of putting the Lannisters in the forefront. Also, in the book Joffrey and Cercei pretend Joffrey loves Sansa, and Sansa believes it. Not so much on the show. Sansa doesn't think Joffrey cares for her and she's right; Joffrey doesn't even pretend.
Loved Littlefinger scaring the shit out of Sansa Stark by telling her the story of the Mountain and the Hound. I think Sansa is more interesting on the show, much less of the fanciful, gullible, deluded twit she is in the book.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
** SPOILERS **
** SPOILERS **
Kenneth Branagh's Thor tells the mythic tale of how the "vain, selfish, greedy" God of Thunder fell to Earth and had a change of heart after a weekend with Natalie Portman. Equal parts otherworldly, comic booky tale of gods and monsters and pretty girl-meets-thunder god romantic comedy, Thor is surprisingly more successful and entertaining as the latter. Even if there happens to be a better rom com this summer than Thor, it will no doubt lack Frost Giants, giant Destroyer robots, and the Warriors Three.
Chris Hemsworth, who portrayed the doomed father of Captain Kirk in JJ Abrams' Star Trek, exceeds all expectations as the mighty God of Thunder, heroically balancing Thor's godly and human sides. Hemsworth is quite simply awesome as Thor; his performance embodies the comic book character and vividly brings Thor to life in a manner equal to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. In the first act of Thor, Hemsworth has all the arrogance and proper swagger one would expect from the Odinson, wielder of the enchanted hammer Mjolnir. The headstrong Thor leads his bestest fighting buddies into the land of the Frost Giants to avenge their affront of attacking Asgard and ruining his coronation as King. For this folly, Odin (Anthony Hopkins, who can and does play this role in his sleep) strips Thor of his powers and banishes him from Asgard to Earth "forever" to teach his son some humility.
Remarkably, the now-human Thor only gets more charming, gallant, and heroic when he meets theoretical physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her wiseacre assistant Kat Dennings, and fellow scientist Stellan Skarsgard, who grew up in Norway hearing all about the Norse myths and can't accept this tall, jacked up blonde dude is the actual God of Thunder he claims he is. Despite repeatedly running him over with her van (a very funny running gag) Thor and Foster take an immediate shine to each other. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman is palpable, and one can easily grasp how both Portman and Dennings can swoon over their Men's Health coverboy new friend, even when he's smashing coffee cups and demanding more breakfast. (Another fun joke for fans of the comic is Thor being named Dr. Donald Blake, after Portman's ex. Donald Blake is the human alter-ego of Thor in the original comics. This also means that Portman can't seem to escape falling for guys named "Donald Blake".)
Portman is adorable; any quibbles about her character being a brilliant physicist attempting to prove her theory of wormholes to other dimensions (which turns out to be the fabled Rainbow Bridge to Asgard) are drowned out by said adorableness. For her part, Dennings provides the most cheerful comic relief of any Marvel movie. Portman and Dennings completely grasp the fun, jokey tone of their half of Thor, making their scenes of helping Thor break into the SHIELD facility (which looks suspiciously like an Apple Store) built around Thor's fallen hammer in New Mexico and run by the stalwart Agent Coulson (or "Son of Coul" according to Thor) more fun than all the cosmic derring-do in Asgard. Director Branagh goes all out invoking Excalibur in Arthurian myths by having everyone and anyone, including a town of rednecks, Loki, and a then-unworthy Thor himself, try and fail to lift the hammer Mjolner from the ground.
The home of the gods, Asgard, is magnificently realized as a shining, sweeping golden megalopolis, though it's so golden one almost expects to see the word TRUMP emblazoned on the side of Odin's royal palace. The gods themselves are an amusing, ribald bunch, played by Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Tadanobu Asano, and Josh Dallas. Radiant Jaimie Alexander is Sif, the warrior goddess who can out fight the Warriors Three. Sif is the logical love match for Thor, and we get the sense Sif thinks so as well, but Thor only has eyes and a swinging hammer for Portman. Thor is the acknowledged alpha male of the group but for hale and hardy immortal space gladiators, the rest of Warriors Three seem kind of harmless. The gods' battle with the Frost Giants is sufficiently bad ass, mainly because Thor showcases all his classic comic book fighting tricks like summoning storms of lightning, making the earth quake, and throwing his hammer to smash into anything and everything.
And yet, when no battle is being fought, the lengthy Asgard half of Thor feels underwritten and surprisingly lifeless, as if rendered inert by its own designs of grandeur and pomposity. We are shown at the start that thousands of Asgardians inhabit their golden city, but they all disappear for the rest of the picture. The immense halls and chambers of Odin's royal palace seem uninhabited except for the occasional guards standing in the background of scenes. The Asgard half of Thor lacked a robustness, a sense that Asgard was a real, bustling place full of activity. What's more, Asgardians tend to speak to each other in stilted Shakespearean dialogue comprised of basic plot points, saying mainly what exposition is necessary to move the story forward. Again, in stark (pun unintended) contrast, the more entertaining half of Thor set in New Mexico only served to highlight how dull life seems on Asgard. No wonder Odin likes to sleep through centuries of it.
Tom Hiddleston makes for a striking Loki, the mischievous brother of Thor, but damned if I could figure out exactly what his deal was during the movie. Loki is a cypher: He begins jealous of Thor's ascent as future king of Asgard and by his own admittance, he allowed the Frost Giants into the city to disrupt Thor's coronation. Loki eggs his rash, impulsive brother on to provoking a fight with the Frost Giants but secretly notified Odin that Thor was doing so. He claimed he had no idea Odin would de-power and banish Thor, but he must have since getting rid of Thor was one of the things he wanted. While fighting the Frost Giants, Loki discovers he can't be harmed by their cold; when he confronts Odin, he learns he was born of the Frost Giants before Odin has a stroke and falls into Odinsleep.
From there, Loki becomes King of Asgard and lies to Thor that Odin is dead and Thor's banishment is permanent, but Loki's motivations get murkier. He banishes Sif and the Warriors Three to Earth and sends the Destroyer robot to kill them all, but why doesn't he just kill Odin as well? Loki invites the Frost Giants to invade Asgard but then kills the Frost Giant king before it can kill Odin? Loki then decides he wants to destroy the entire Frost Giant land and almost does so until Thor stops him (I did like how Thor placed the hammer on Loki's chest to pin him down.) Loki is supposed to be a mastermind but he didn't exhibit real forward-thinking scheming; he was mostly making things up as he went along. Loki lacked a clear through line for his villainy, and the tag at the end of Loki pining for the Cosmic Cube in Nick Fury's possession only raises further questions about what the hell Loki is up to.
At its best, Thor is thunderous entertainment; an ambitious and generally successful foray by Marvel to bring the magical elements of their universe to cinematic life. To its credit, Thor is much more seamless than Iron Man 2 in incorporating the larger Marvel universe, dropping hints of Bruce Banner, a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and a post-credits tag alluding to the forthcoming Captain America, setting up next year's Marvel Team Up movie The Avengers. Thor himself is a worthy and noble new addition to movie superheroes. When the Mighty Thor, at the fullness of his powers, soars into the sky and calls forth the lightning, yea, verily, Thor is a movie god worth believing in.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Bran is alive! Thank the gods! But he remembers nothing and he'll never climb again.
Where were the direwolves this week? I thought Bran's wolf would never leave his side. Maybe it just didn't want to hear the creepy old wet nurse's creepy stories.
They worked very hard to get across the idea that the Night's Watch is a ragtag band of misfits sorely unready to hold back an incursion of the creepy crawlies from the north. They were successful in that regard, but what do they really expect Tyrion to do about it?
New scenes not in the book was Cercei listening to Joffrey's ideas of what he'd do when he's king and shooting down his crazy notion of conquering and holding Winterfell. Also, the scenes with Robert getting drunk and yelling at Jaime Lancaster and Jaime and Cercei's tete-a-tete in her chambers. The show is doing a good job keeping the Lannisters in the mix as they're insidious background players, at least in the first half of the book.
Delighted to see Aiden Quinn (Tommy Carcetti from The Wire) as Littlefinger. The dagger that carved up Catelyn's hands when the assassin tried to kill Bran is his, but was won by Tyrion in a bet. Is Tyrion the one who made the call to have Bran killed?
Not a lot of action but quite a bit of intrigue this week, setting up bigger stuff to come.
I leave you with a couple of Tweets:
Anyone who makes an inappropriate "Needle" joke about Arya Stark is a terrible, terrible person. #GameofThrones
The Dothraki pregnancy textbook "Blessings From The Great Stallion". Chapter 3: Fondle breast, ask when she last bled. #GameofThrones