HBO, 22 April
There’s violent death, weird birth, casual nudity and Tyrion’s quips: it must be Game of Thrones…
As well as supplying prostitutes to young King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson, right), plotting imp Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) turns his cousin Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) into a spy on his sister, Cersei (Lena Heady)—he’s easily the busiest member of the King’s Landing elite. Hoping getting laid will tame Joffrey’s cruelty (expressed in his humiliation of his wife-to-be, Sansa (Sophie Turner)), Tyrion’s jape instead results in the tiny tyrant discovering yet another outlet for his sadism.
Elsewhere, battles are noticeably missing with viewers simply seeing the opening and aftermath, despite the evident budget increase. Despite its ambition, even Game of Thrones it seems cannot compete with the big screen Lord of the Rings. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) might be winning his war, but we’re not seeing much of it…
Two new locations appear this episode: Qarth, the city guarded by the Thirteen, where Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons finally tip up, and Harrenhal, where Arya’s (Maisie Williams) gender-bending disguise is uncovered and she falls into the service of the patriarch of her enemies, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance).
Several twisted plot lines are slightly advanced in Garden of Bones (the episode named for the area outside of the coveted city of Qarth), but the major development comes when ‘red witch’ Melisandre (Carice van Houten) gives birth to the smoke monster from Lost, apparently an impossibly quick result from her coupling with Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Slowly, but surely, magic is making itself felt once more in the world of Westeros.
Verdict: Showing signs of increasingly departing from the original novels, Game of Thrones continues to be one of the most consistently entertaining hours of current television.
Episode 4 ‘Garden of Bones’: 7/10
Brian J. Robb