Game of Thrones Revisited: 1.06 A Golden Crown
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Game of Thrones, the critically acclaimed TV series by David Benioff and DB Weiss and developed from the best-selling series of novels by George RR Martin, has become a cultural icon. The tentpole of HBO's programming with a stellar cast and mix of medieval-style political drama and war with a healthy dash of fantasy, Game of Thrones has enthralled audiences worldwide. And in 2019, the show will come to a dramatic end in its final run of feature length episodes. In the lead up to season eight, I explore every episode leading up to the final battle for Westeros and the rest of the world; this time it's the one where Viserys received exactly what he wished for...
Warning: There may be spoilers for seasons one to seven...
Ah, Viserys Targaryen, we barely knew you. As perhaps the first real nasty character of the series, he was in the show a lot less than I realised, but then this was always his sister's story, not his. Harry Lord certainly made an impression with his limited screen time over these episodes and this was a fitting and horrible end to a horrible character. His days were numbered the moment he started ranting about his glory and tried to steal the dragon eggs - could you imagine the havoc he would have caused with three live dragons on his side?
Fortunately the noble Jorah was there to stop him, a conflict for the audience who have quickly learned that he a traitor and spy for Westeros - Varys perhaps? And Viserys should have stayed away; the moment he stumbled into the Dorthraki tent, waving his sword and demanding his due while flaunting the savage customs of his hosts he was a dead man. I'm not sure what was more shocking, Daenerys, who was already embracing her new Dothraki heritage by eating a bloody heart, calmly watching as her brother met her fate, or Khal Drogo's actions, melting gold in a cooking pot and giving Viserys his crown by pouring the molten metal over his head. Either way, this nasty Targaryen certainly underestimated everyone around him.
Over at Winterfell, Natalia Tena makes her debut as wildling Osha during an attack on poor Bran while he is out riding in the harness Tyrion designed for him. It's interesting to see how much of a villain she is here, given that she will become a close travelling companion of Bran as he ventures beyond the Wall in later seasons. There's another intriguing dream reference with the three-eyed crow again, building once more on the Stark boy's destiny.
Meanwhile there is plenty of fun at the Eerie; poor Tyrion really suffers in his perilous sky cell, his attempts to bribe jailer Mord with Lannister gold falling on deaf ears. The bromance with Bronn kicks off too, Peter Dinklage and Jerome Flynn already had a good rapport last episode and here we see Bronn to step up to defend Tyrion in a trial by combat. While I certainly felt for Catelyn as her misguided attempts to bring Tyrion to justice crumbled, the brutal fight over the open hole and Bronn's triumph was thrilling and the two of them marching out the hall to freedom certainly brought a smile to my face.
I suspect the high ranking of this episode on IMDB (9.2) is the result of Viserys and Tyrion's storylines. For me, A Golden Crown is still a good episode, but with its King's Landing quota of the episode, it does feel as if the pace and tension of previous instalment The Wolf and the Lion falters. Jamie flees off-screen and all that tension and drama of Ned defiantly casting aside his title of Hand of the King is discarded. Robert orders Ned to rule in his stead and heads off on a hunt,. He still continues to be a brutal, vindictive man; poor Cersei - and I mean that - suffers at his hands while brother Renly's attempts to reason are shot down in a more cruel fashion.
There are also hints at future storylines, Beric Dondarrion heading off to capture the Mountain Gregor Clegane after Ned brands him an outlaw, setting up the Brotherhood without Banners seen in season three. Ned's attempt to demand Tywin march to King's Landing to pay for the Mountain's actions are surely foolish too, setting up his fall to come. We haven't even met Jamie, Cersei and Tyrion's father yet but with all we've learned, he is a man to be feared (and of course when he makes his debut, he doesn't disappoint).
A Golden Crown was a very solid episode of Game of Thrones, the tension faltering at King's Landing, but made up for in Tyrion and Viserys's storylines. There's a nice contrast between the dwarf's triumph and the the Targaryen's very nasty downfall; there are plenty of huge and shocking deaths in the show's history, but this one was one of the best.