Game of Thrones: Special-effects dragon out-acts Jon Snow
The beast sniffs out Jon’s Targaryen parentage in an emotional CGI encounter
The more immersed you become in Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, Monday, 2am & 9pm) the more you see it as a metaphor for everything. Some weeks it seems a clear analogy for climate change, where dire warnings go unheeded. Other weeks it feels like a thinly veiled take on contemporary politics and leadership styles, where the sanity of rulers is a hot topic.
This week, on a battleground eerily reduced to ash, it was hard not to find unnerving chimes with the threat of nuclear war. This is the handiwork of Daenerys Targaryen: a world leader, locked and loaded, making good on the promise of fire and fury. In these nerve-jangling times, it’s hard to find too much escape in such escapism.
Emboldened by victory, Daenerys is worryingly becoming her father’s daughter, a cut off the old block of the mad king. If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, dragon power corrupts off the scale. Dany insists her prisoners “bend the knee” or burn, oblivious to the irony that this self-professed “breaker of chains” will publicly incinerate her own captives.
Cersei, a born capitalist, thinks victory can be bought with increased military spending
Is it any wonder that Tyrion now sports the pained expression of a White House adviser. The guy has reason to be worried.
So does Jaime, who we first see plucked up from the muddy waters by his accomplice Bronn, as though beginning their own Cohen brothers movie. (We are spared the details of their miraculous escape.)
He breaks the bad news and more to Cersei: the war is unwinnable, Olenna confessed to killing our son, and, how have you been? Cersei, a born capitalist, thinks victory can be bought with increased military spending, but Jaime recognises an ideological quagmire: what chance do mercenaries have against true believers? Cersei has happier news: she’s incestuously pregnant again, and the romantic music asks you to be happy for them.
“You weren’t gone long,” marvels Jon Snow when Daenerys returns, keeping this season’s dry humour quotient pleasingly high. But Daenerys has been getting rather moony eyed over Jon, whom only the dragons sniff out as a member of the family.
Realised in impressively intimate CGI, the close-up of one dragon’s encounter with Jon is that rare thing, a special effect that conveys an emotional effect: Jon is Daenerys’s nephew.
The actor Kit Harrington may not have the wide emotional range of such computer programmes, but his permanently put-upon frown suits this unwilling King of the North who might now be an unwitting Dragon King in waiting. Unlike his Aunty Dan, Jon is less of a firebrand.
Daenerys does show some signs of compromise, though, when she agrees to an attempted détente with the Lannisters to unite against a common foe, the looming army of the undead.
Dragons, giants and resurrections are generally acknowledged realities in Game of Thrones, but for some reason the threat of zombie attack is really pushing it. So it is decided that they will need to catch one in order to persuade Cersei.
Tyrion secretly travels to King’s Landing to get the message to his estranged brother
Jon, facing a leadership challenge at home, volunteers for the mission, in what seems to be an extended working holiday.
For his part, Tyrion secretly travels to King’s Landing to get the message to his estranged brother, while Liam Cunningham’s wonderfully-played Davos goes downtown to find Gendry – the “bastard” son to Robert Baratheon, currently evading detection in King’s Landing by working as a Christian Bale impersonator.
Gendry knows his way around a hammer, and is thus enlisted in Jon’s White Walker hunting pack, further augmented by deadpan wildling Tormund and, rather conveniently, the profanely loquacious Westeros boyband, Brotherhood Without Banners – featuring The Hound.
Our last view, rather appropriately, is of this magnificent seven walking out into the blizzard in formation. It’s a swashbuckling change from the fiery set pieces that have ended most episodes in this royally entertaining season so far.
A peeved Sam cuts her off mid revelation, in a fun nugget of plotting within a sharp episode
But the real highpoint, rather slyly, is actually a moment of research. In a dark reading room Sam Tarley listens to his recently literate partner, Gilly, who stumbles on the secret of Jon’s awesome parentage in a diary of trivia.
A peeved Sam cuts her off mid revelation, in a fun nugget of plotting within a sharp episode. Maybe the work stress has really gotten to him. But I suspect he is guided by an even nobler code, one that fans may recognise in themselves: Please, Gilly – no spoilers.