Review: Game of Thrones Ep. 06 “A Golden Crown”


So, we’re passed the halfway point now in the first season of Game of Thrones.  After spending the first half of the season setting up the show’s many characters, it’s obvious that the first season is now moving towards its inetivable conclusion.  Not having read the book that this season is based on, I have no idea what that conclusion might be, though I suspect it’s going to be a violent one that’s going to leave a lot of the characters I’ve just gotten to know dead.  To a certain extent, I’m happy that I don’t know what’s coming up.  It allows me the thrill of discovery, if nothing else.

So, in tonight’s episode, there were two major events.  One of those events was kinda cool and fun and contained everything that you would both expect and want to see from a show like this.  The other event came at the end of this episode and was horrific, disturbing, excessive, and yet undeniably effective and watchable.  (And it was topped off by one of the best lines ever uttered on television.)  This event also gave this episode its name.

Let’s go in chronological order.  The cool, fun event involved — no surprise — Tyrion.  To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to or have much respect for the Emmy awards but seriously, if Peter Dinklage doesn’t get an Emmy for his work on this series then there is no justice.   Accused of trying to kill Bran and facing the judgment of the wonderfully insane court of Lysa Arryn, Tyrion spends most of this episode cheating death and Dinklage brought exactly the right combination of arrogance and desperation to his performance tonight.  Hopefully, if Dinklage gets his deserved Emmy nomination, they’ll show a clip of his “confession” from this episode.  (Though I have to say that I am continually astounded and amazed by the sheer number of ways that boys have come up with to avoid saying “masturbate.”)

Tyrion demanded a trial by combat which led to a fight between one of Lysa’s painfully noble knights and Tyrion’s “champion,” Bronn.  And, unlike most television (and move) sword fights, this fight actually felt real.  Watching the two warriors, you felt as if they were actually fighting.  It reminded me of the that episode of The Sopranos where you literally saw James Gandolfini beat Joe Pantoliano to death.  It felt real and, for me, the sight of all that blood pouring out over that formerly pristine armor  is one that I won’t get out of my head any time soon.

After the fight, Lysa accuses Bronn of fighting without honor, to which Bronn perfectly replied (while staring down at the corpse of his opponent), “No.  He did.”  And you know what?  On the basis of that line alone, Bronn is now my fourth favorite character.

(By the way, I was reading another blogger who joked that Lysa’s legal system made more sense than the “ones they’ve got in Alabama or Texas.”  And to that, I say “Fuck you, you goddamn elitist wanna-be Canadian Yankee asshole.”)

My favorite character — Daenrys — got to deliver a pretty great line herself and I’m not going to repeat it because, with my ADD-addled mind, I’ll probably end up misquoting her.  However, anyone who saw tonight’s episode, knows what line I’m talking about.  For me, Dany remains the most intriguing character on this show and the one who consistently manages to surprise me every episode.  Tonight, her surprise was calmly watching as her annoying weakling of a brother Viserys get killed in such a grotesque and horrific fashion that you couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for him.

That’s right, Viserys got his crown.  Or, more to the point, Drogo pours molten gold on top of Viserys head and Viserys dies.  And even though I was suspecting that Viserys would die, the brutality of it caught me off guard.  To continue with my Sopranos comparison, the sight of Viserys afterward was just as shocking, to me, as the sight of Joe Pantoliano’s dead eyes staring up at the man who just literally beat the life out of him.  Seriously, I couldn’t stand Viserys and all but now I’m kinda scared of accidentally getting trapped underneath a gigantic — but cracked — cauldron of molten gold.

Among the other memorable moments from tonight’s episode, Bran’s encounter in the woods nicely reminded us — as did this whole episode, really — that the world of Game of Thrones isn’t necessarily a pleasant one.  I also continue to cringe whenever that creepy little Joffrey shows up.  Seriously, I keep expecting him to start trying to drag people off to the cornfield or something.

I do have to say that I’m still waiting for Ned to really step up and impress me as a character.  So far, he’s been a sympathetic but vaguely dull character.  You watch him and you never doubt his good intentions but you do doubt his ability to actually accomplish anything.  Sean Bean is a far more capable actor than he’s been allowed to show in the series so far and I’m betting (and hoping) that by the end of the season, Bean will get a chance to shine.

That said, I did enjoy the small subplot of Ned running the kingdom because (along with Lysa’s court), it further highlighted one of the reasons why I love this show.  Every episode so far has featured various characters plotting and scheming and, in every episode so far, those plots and schemes have proven to be no match for the random whims of fate.  If nothing else, Game of Thrones is turning out to be a great portrait of a society that has fooled itself into thinking that the randomness of life can somehow be regulated by tradition, ritual, and law.  And who, out here in the real world, can’t relate to that?

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a newcomer to Game of Thrones.  I have not read the George R. R. Martin novel that the series is based on (though I have read countless Wikipedia entries about every man, woman, and child to appear in the series) and therefore, I can’t judge how the TV series compares to the book.  All I can say is that, having seen the first 6 episodes. Game of Thrones has so far managed to not only capture my interest but to hold on to it as well.  I do have to admit that, during every episode. there’s been the occasional moments where I’ve had to think to myself, “Wait, who is that again and how is he or she related to everyone else?”  But that’s hardly a criticism.  Game of Thrones is a complex series and one of the few that will definitely benefit from multiple viewings once the first season is released on DVD.  In the future, we may very well remember Game of Thrones as being The Wire of fantasy television.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Seven Souls (performed by Material and William S. Burroughs)

It was either 3 or 4 years ago that I first heard this song playing over the end credits of an episode of The Sopranos.  Other than recognizing the iconic and deadpan twang of the late William S. Burroughs, I had absolutely no idea who performed this song or even what the song’s title was.

However, this previous Christmas, I received a copy of The Sopranos: A Family History from my sister Erin and as I was reading through it last night, I came across a reference to the very song.  I discovered that the name of the song was “Seven Souls” and that it was performed by an “experimental” group called Material. 

I then proceeded to do even more extensive, deep-digging research and … well, okay, to be honest, I’m lazy so I just looked it up on Wikipedia.  And according to Wikipedia, Seven Souls was released in 1990 and it features William S. Burroughs reading passages from his book The Western Lands.

Anyway, here it is…”Seven Souls” by Material and William S. Burroughs…

5 Performers Who Deserve A Role In A Tarantino Movie

One of the great things about watching a Quentin Tarantino film is the chance to see B-movie actors and various grindhouse veterans getting a chance to show off just how talented they actually are.  Below are four men and one woman who, in a perfect world, would have a date with Tarantino in the near future.

1) Giovanni Lombardo Radice

Who is he? He’s one of the great Italian exploitation actors.  He played a character named Charles Bukowski in Cannibal Apocalypse.  He was Bob the Pervert in City of th Living Dead.  Remember his little disco dance in House On The Edge of the Park?  And who can forget him snorting cocaine, getting castrated, and shouting “Twatface!” in Cannibal Ferox?  He was also a regular in the movies of Michele Soavi and though he hasn’t been as active in recent years, he can be seen in both Gangs of New York and the Omen remake.

Why Should Tarantino Use Him?  Are you kidding?  Because he rocks that’s why.  Plus, Tarantino has said that he’s a fan and, in a documentary included on the Cannibal Apocalypse DVD, Radice expressed a desire to some day work with Tarantino.  And, with his current bald look, Radice could easily play Mussolini if Tarantino wanted to make a prequel to Inglorious Basterds.

2) Tony Sirico

Who is He? He’s the Italian version of Danny Trejo, a real-life gangster who went to prison and then became an actor. 

Why Should Tarantino Use Him? Because Paulie was my favorite character on The Sopranos.  Sirico deserves at least one starring role in his  post-prison career.

3) Colby Donaldson

Who Is He? Okay, Colby’s kinda been a little bit pathetic on the current season of Survivor but in his two previous appearances on the show, Colby was the man.  In between reality show appearances, Colby has pursued a career as an actor and, surprisingly, he’s not half bad.  His best post-Survivor role, though, was playing himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Why Should Tarantino Use Him? Because someday, Tarantino’s going to have to make an actual western and who would be better to star in it than my fellow Texan, Colby?

4) Fred J. Lincoln

Who is He? Lincoln has spent most of his career working in the porn industry but Lincoln has appeared in a few “mainstream” movies.  Most infamously, he played “Weasel” in the original Last House On The Left.  In the 70s, Lincoln was the owner of Plato’s Retreat, an infamous sex club in NYC.  He’s also one of the central figures in Legs McNeil’s The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry .

Why  Should Tarantino Use Him?  David Hess got the majority of the attention but, of Last House’s trio of killers, Lincoln was the truly scary one.  A cameo in a Tarantino movie would be the perfect way to pay credit to Lincoln’s role in one of the seminal exploitation films in history.

5) Catriona MacColl

Who is She? English actress who appeared in several exploitation films in the late 70s and early 80s.  She is probably best known for starring in Fulci’s Beyond trilogy.  Currently semi-retired from acting and living in France.

Why Should Tarantino Use Her? Because she starred in The Beyond, of course!