Click through for photos from the White House premiere of Lifetime's The Road to Bountiful, the party for the season-four return of IFC's Portlandia and more events for the week of March 10.
HBO's Game of Thrones: Swordfights! Sex! Fratricide! It's GREAT!
The ten-episode second season of HBO’s epic medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones, set in the fictional kingdoms of Westeros, returns this Sunday at 9p.
While the first season was stunning, the series was somewhat hobbled by exposition. The tale is exceedingly complex. #GoT follows four or five subplots and any number of royal family bloodlines. Now mostly unencumbered by exposition, the pace of season two is humming like a well-oiled machine.
HBO spared almost no expense. The cost of the show is up 15% from last season’s $60 million price tag, according to the Wall Street Journal. The globetrotting show was filmed on a glacier in Iceland (in the middle of winter), in Croatia, and also in Northern Ireland where the production is headquartered. So, all of those big puffs of frosty breath are, apparently, the real thing. (Pity the poor actors working in those conditions.)
Game of Thrones is by far the most thrilling and escapist series on television.
#GoT is a sprawling tale of ambition, tragedy, and Machiavellian plotting. Westeros is a land where summers and winters can last for years. Summer has been unusually long, and the coming winter will likely be bitter and devastating. Instead of preparing for the inevitable hardships, royal families are instead amassing armies and vying for the supreme seat of power, the Iron Throne. Civil war and chaos and a climatic battle all appear inevitable as alliances shift on the sands of ambition. There is infanticide and fratricide and sword fighting and sex.
The sadistic Prince Joffrey - a character my friend Alex Strachan described on Twitter as a “petulant teenage Caligula” is the personification of evil. Following the death of his debauched yet honorable father, Robert Baratheon, Joffrey is now king.
Robert’s widow and Joffrey’s mother, Queen Cersei, has created a monster. Not unexpected since Joffrey isn’t really Robert’s son. He’s the product of incest, as we learned during the first season. The Queen’s brother Tyrion (played by the Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage), by far the smartest and most honorable of the bunch, has his hands full trying to fix the messes created by his ambitious and heartless family.
Joffrey murdered Lord “Ned” Stark, and Ned’s son Robb is on the march to take King’s Landing.
Forces are gathering from other directions as well: Daenerys and her three young dragons, along with a few ragtag followers, are regrouping from the desert wastes as the sea-faring Greyjoys plot their next move from the Iron Islands.
Rumors of Queen Cersei’s incest abound. Robert Baratheon’s brothers, Stannis and Renly, both lay claim to the Iron Throne now occupied by their nephew Joffrey. Stannis is allied with Melisandre, a malevolent priestess with mystical powers. Renly, one of the few gay characters in the series, is now married to the beautiful and wealthy (and quite sensible) Margaery.
Last season Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s illegitimate son, joined the Order of the Night’s Watch, guardians of the great wall to the north. Beyond the wall, a new and mysterious leader is organizing the Wildings. And there are hints, both this season and last, that the White Walkers, beings not seen in thousands of years, have awakened and are on the prowl near the wall again.
As for the Stark children, the family has disintegrated, scattered by the forces of change. Arya, the sword-fighting tomboy, has escaped into the countryside. Her sister Sansa, betrothed to the sadistic Joffrey and held hostage at King’s Landing, has learned to cope by hermetically sealing herself off emotionally. Bran, crippled in a fall last season (shoved out a window by Cersei’s twin brother Jaime after Bran spots the two copulating), now presides over the family estate, a much-diminished Winterfell.
My only misgiving about #GoT is the gratuitous nudity and torture. And it’s mostly the women who are exposed. (lots and lots of breasts.) It’s all pretty tame. The sex isn’t interesting nor particularly erotic. Vulture Blog will have a few more scenes to add to their “great moments in sexposition.”
(An explanation of sexposition can be found here on wikipedia.)
But it’s a small imperfection in an otherwise completely immersive series.