The Slump of King’s Landing

~Guest post from the amazing Fraser~

Game of Thrones has come under a lot of criticism in its 4 and a bit seasons of air time. A lot of it warranted, some of it not so much. However, one thing that is rarely criticised (sorry Emilia you seem lovely) is the acting. You may be wondering where this is going. Just keep reading though. Or don’t. One of the many criticisms being levelled at season 5 of the epic fantasy drama is that King’s Landing is just a tad bit boring. I have some theories other than the writing is just shit that I would like to share. So I’m writing this.

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As the capital of the Seven Kingdoms you’d expect King’s Landing to be the centre of the show. This hasn’t been the case. In season 5 it has seemed to be more of side plot or a throw away.  A Feast For Crows had large parts of it based in King’s Landing and isn’t this the book we are supposed to be on? Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 saw huge parts of the story taking place in the capital, yet in the season where it should truly be the focus, it is not! This season has just lacked the spark it once had and it seems to be in large part due to the lack of strong characters in the capital. One thing King’s Landing has not lacked is fantastic actors. Sean Bean, Mark Addy (no matter what you think of Robert Baratheon), Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aiden Gillen, Conleth Hill, Peter Dinklage, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal, Natalie Dormer, Rory McCann, and Diana Rigg. The show has received various acting nominations and Peter Dinklage has an Emmy and a Golden Globe to his name for playing Tyrion Lannister. That list just shows the depth of brilliant actors that have at one point in time been at King’s Landing.  Even Michelle Fairley chilled at Littlefinger’s brothel for a bit! David and Dan have had the ability to write scenes using two or three of these actors and just let it play out. No need for dragons, or magic demon babies. One of the strongest scenes of the first season was Robert and Cersei talking about their marriage. It wasn’t even from the books!! The illustrious array of actors available for the King’s Landing scenes has spoilt us as viewers and the people writing the scenes. Season 5 has lacked many of these actors in King’s Landing. We have the brilliant Lena Headey and Natalie Dormer as almost the ‘senior’ mainstays in King’s Landing in season 5 and both are brilliant at the roles they play, however the two of them are not able to carry the capital so to speak. In previous seasons dialogue between 2 characters in King’s Landing have been captivating and interesting and in the season where the meat of the story should be in King’s Landing, it is lacking. Mayhaps it is because of the writing or deviation from the books, but one thing remains clear: through 5 episodes, it has been lackluster at best. Nothing has really seemed to “happen.”

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The first season saw most of the action play out in the capital, culminating in Ned Stark’s beheading (may the Old Gods rest his beautiful soul). Season 2 saw Cersei and Tyrion trying to take the reins and control Joffrey, culminating in the brilliant episode 9 ‘Blackwater’. Season 3, saw the scene stealing Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister and his interactions with many characters as he planned the death of our beloved KINGINDANORF/KINGOFDANORF and his lovely mother Catelyn. THREE GREAT SEASONS OF KING’S LANDING.  Season 4 was arguably the best season in terms of King’s Landing. Pedro Pascal waltzes seductively into the capital and goes toe to toe with all the great actors before he meets the Mountain (didn’t end too well for him though). Jack Gleeson’s time on the show sadly came to an end but with brilliant drama and acting of course. The trial of Tyrion was perhaps Peter Dinklage’s finest moments in front of a camera. In the final episode of season 4, the deaths of Tywin Lannister and Shae resulted in Tyrion and Varys both leaving the capital, the loss of 4 important characters in King’s Landing has certainly been felt.

s01e10-varys-and-littlefingerThe first 4 seasons saw a tour de force in King’s Landing. Season 5 has been more of a tour de damp squib. The re-arrival of Diana Rigg who was not originally going to be in season 5 for me shows that the show runners felt there was a need for more ‘heavyweights’ in the capital so to speak. With Aiden Gillen’s enigmatic Littlefinger re emerging from his helicopter or however he gets around Westeros nowadays it seems that the half season slump that King’s Landing might be ending. However the writing does certainly need to improve, but with more brilliant actors to work with this seems likely. Also the fact there is only 4 episodes left and something more interesting than Loras merely being arrested by the Westeros Baptist Church has to happen. This of course will happen, if you’ve read the books you have an idea of what is in store for Cersei, and I’m sure Lena Headey will put in a performance worthy of all of those who have done so before her in the capital, herself included.

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It was only last night that we finally were able to see what Lena Headey and Natalie Dormer are capable of doing. They truly stole the episode with their powerful acting. And just in time too! The entire Kings Landing storyline was beginning to feel forced and stagnant. Now, with the  upcoming trials of Ser Loras Tyrell, Queen Margaery and the Queen Mother Cersei, we might finally get a glimpse of what we have to come expect after all of these years.

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