What They Say:
Tyrion and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis’ fleet attacks King’s Landing.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The slow but steady approach of Stannis and his fleet towards King’s Landing has been fascinating to watch. We’ve had only a few bits overall that involved that journey which were certainly interesting, but the majority of the focus in regards to the planned attack has been on King’s Landing. And it’s been really intriguing to watch as it’s not been something that has taken real shape or focus when it comes to defenses since there’s such a denial over it, outside of Tyrion and some of what he’s been able to accomplish to try and make sure they can at least meet what’s to come. The politicking and intrigue has certainly been a part of it but also just a huge amount of foolish and naïve confidence coming out of Joffrey about it that’s been almost comical to watch, especially with how Tyrion mocks him so easily.
The calm before the storm is a huge thing of foreboding beauty as you have elements on board the ship, a wonderful if ominous bit of father and son time, while you also have things moving quietly within the city itself as Tyrion makes it clear that even as he lies with his love, there is fear about what’s to come. A Lannister’s fate is not going to be pleasant should the city fall and he’s abundantly aware of that. Seeing how the city practically sleeps as things are close to happening is certainly disturbing in its own way, but it’s also welcome to see that there are those that are about to fight that take advantage of the time to have ale and women, to enjoy the time they have in one of the pleasures that they do partake in.
When it comes to Joffrey, there is a great bit of amusement that comes into play when he sees Sansa before going off to the fight. She’s made her bed to be sure and is making the most of it when it comes to how snarky and sarcastic she can get while still staying just barely within bounds. She manages to push him in the right way while also making sure she herself feels good about what she says. It’s a priceless bit little series of events as they go back and forth and you really have to continue to admire Sansa and the way she’s handled herself. She’s becoming far more than one might have expected at the start of the series to be sure and has definitely found her place and position.
When the battle gets underway, after much tenseness, well, holy shit. The intensity of it is brutal, vicious and beautiful. You can see the horror on the faces of those from King’s Landing as it plays out, that such power is there, and it’s impressive. Stannis’ fleet certainly takes its hit, but it’s not a truly crippling blow as there are still many more ships. But from a psychological standpoint, there’s a cold, cruel and vicious brutality to it that you have to step back and admire. The visuals for it are so striking as it first hits and the level of it and then to see the very personal level of it all we see the soldiers dying, fighting and trying to survive the green flames.
When it shifts to the ground battle as the first forces storm the shore, there’s a lot of familiar material here as it does unfold as you’d expect, but it’s watching the cast deal with it. Joffrey’s nearly full of fear here as he realizes the true numbers involved and the uncertainlty of others as they’re thrown into the sword to sword combat with all its brutal beauty. The numbers are impressive as more and more come on shore, the scaling of the walls begins and just the constant nature of blood being spilled, bodies being split in half and more is powerful. It’s played straight and there’s just a lot going on, but it all flows and makes sense as just more and more are thrown at it until progress is made.
With George R.R. Martin himself writing tonight’s episode, how could you not like it? It does add a slightly different feel to it knowing that though as you expect a bit more, and you should at this stage where things are just hitting the high spot and near end point for the season. And this episode has nothing but payoff here as the battles unfold. The action side of it is certainly big and what was expected but it’s also very up close and personal for all those involved. With its focus on King’s Landing, all else is ejected for this episode and it’s for the best so that we can see how everything plays out. I loved the tense build up even as it has that calm to it, the banter is spot on and the verbal sparring hits some fantastic moments. Tyrion steals the show as is expected, but there’s so many wonderful moments throughout, especially with Cersei and Sansa among others. The episode gives much of what was needed, expected and desired and doesn’t falter in the slightest.