A Game of Thrones

GAME OF THRONES, SEASON 2: THE HEAVY METAL REVIEW — EPISODE 2.4, “GARDEN OF BONES”

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Game of Thrones is a show about long-haired men with leather armor, bloody longswords, and horned battle helmets. It’s a world where black magic is growing strong, and it’s a tale of intrigue with precious few kick-ass women around to keep the fellas’ worst impulses in check. So every Monday, Metal Sucks reviews the previous night’s episode appropriately: not by critiquing how authentic its olde-tymey conventions are or how our modern American values apply to a mystic medieval world – but by measuring how metal the show was.

Episode 2.4, “Garden of Bones.”

Huh, “bones.” This week’s action starts on a portentous ebony evening, with two foot soldiers in Beavis and Butt-head mode, crackin’ a gay joke and farting. And then, with the scent of sulfur still wafting in the air, a wolf bounds out of the night. And no sooner has it ripped out a throat, the body count rises through the thatched roof. We don’t see the massive battle – even HBO has a limited budget to work with, and the series isn’t about the action (so far) – but the show hammers home the horrors of war in a poignant scene with a bone saw. Huh, “bone.”

Time and again, “Garden of Bones” revisits a theme that has inspired so much great heavy metal: The people in power tend to be total dicks. Denied blood and disgrace, a boy king turns down some menage-ry – he likes to watch, and he likes it rough. We also meet, once more, some of the biggest and baddest men in the kingdom.

At the big-assed, dragon-melted castle where Arya and Gendry are taken, “The Mountain” is Ser Gregor Clegane. If he doesn’t look familiar, the role is being played by a new, taller, yet lankier actor. You may remember the character from Season One – he’s the guy who hacked off a horse’s head. And as the Lord of Harrenhal (that melted, creepy keep), he lets his men use torture techniques that make the iron maiden seem downright merciful. Right when a rat is about to chew a hole is the week’s key bastard – bastards, you will see, figure prominently in this story – Lord Tywin Lannister rides in and saves the day. If you’re just tuning in, Lannister is the balding guy with the red sash, who points out there’s more economic benefit in putting prisoners to work than to death. As a wealthy military mastermind, he’s the true power behind the throne.

And  the subject of massively malicious and completely cruel dicks leads us to a new feature of the Metal Sucks Game of Thrones Heavy Metal Reviews: The Random Dude of the Week.

As we’ve discussed in previous reviews, the chief benefit of reading the books is that you no longer see the show as a parade of random people; you recognize who these walking & talking heads are. This week’s spotlight is on the guy who was talking to Robb Stark, King of the North, Lord of Winterfell. The guy who said “A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man has none” – that was Lord Roose Bolton. He’s a Northern Lord who has served the Stark family in the past. The Bolton family’s sigil – that’s medieval for “logo” – is a skinned (“flayed”) man. Lord Bolton does not fuck around. Mark this man well. He also has a kid we’ll meet later, who’s a bastard and a half.

As always, some of the major characters and plotlines are absent from this hour’s action, but here’s what else we see this week: An honorable dead man makes a less-than-triumphant return. A girl’s list of people she wants to see dead grows longer (as does ours).

Even a man whose pimp hand is strong knows: sometimes the best armor is a good lie. Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen Khaleesi Drogo Mother of Dragons – the hot, unfuckwithable, little blonde girl – and her diminished horde arrive at a city that may be their salvation. And their entrance is paid for with blood. What awaits inside, and will we need to wait another four weeks to find out? Stay tuned, bro. Stay tuned.

After a tense talk between two rival brothers – battling brothers is pretty metal, right? – ends without resolution, we reach a pivotal point not only for the story, but for the world of Westeros itself: A onetime pirate forgoes cleaner and nobler methods to deliver the most spectacular magic we’ve seen yet. Dark spawn has grown quickly in the belly of the Red Witch, and is soon unleashed for a deed blacker still. But to what end? Tune in next week, true believers. The night is dark and full of terrors, and they’re starting to break free. Doom is coming. For some, sooner than others.

Stats: Onscreen deaths, 2. Offscreen deaths, a few hundred. Dismembered heads impaled on an iron spike for your viewing pleasure: 1. Boobs: 4 (but considering what came next, the boobs hardly made it sexytime). Dragons: 0.

Rating: We don’t see the decapitation, and the hand-to-hand combat is pretty skimpy… but when a black demon crawls out of a fire priestess’s vajay, that’s pretty fuckin’ metal. Shit is on.

So what’d you think? Does anyone else want to start a petition to have King Joffrey killed by week six, even if it would totally mess up the story? Tell us in the comments section.

SPOILER POLICY: Game of Thrones – the show and the books – is a helluva tale with some mindfuck twists that will rock your world, so please don’t ruin them for any new fans or casual readers. If you really need to reference one of the major developments that lurk in future episodes or later on in the books, please try be as vague as possible, and clearly label them SPOILERS. And if you’re new to the epic, be warned: If you read about the books or show long enough, you will learn something you wish you hadn’t, so just buy the ticket and take the ride.

-Ferris

D.X. Ferris wrote the 33 1/3 series book about Slayer’s Reign in Blood, writes & draws the webcomic Suburban Metal Dad, and runs Pentagrammarian,  the world’s only heavy metal grammar & usage website (that we’re aware of). You can follow his bullshit on Twitter herehere, and here.  

Thanks to Christopher Ford for making the Snow-Hayes connection!

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