Andy Greenwald's episode recaps for Game of Thrones remain the best reading after the show. Maybe part of it is because, like me, he has not read the books and prefers the show as a creation in itself. Now, like me, it's impossible to avoid some spoilers as people tell them to you or they come up in your online reading (hello, Joffrey's wedding celebrations). Or maybe it's because he seems to have the same favorite characters I do. Arya, Dany, Tyrion, Tywin, well, the list goes on. And I agree with him that the Dornish look like they're going to be a heck of a lot of fun, if the fantastic intro to the second prince Oberyn is any indication. Man, that part of the show was great.
But mostly, I think the reason I enjoy Greenwald most is his beautiful and concise insights into characters, backgrounds, and foreboding, especially impressive with having not read the books which provide so much more background. An excerpt of his take on the intro of Prince Oberyn Martell, via his blog at Grantland:
Take, for example, the introduction of Prince Oberyn Martell, an alluring, pansexual libertine with revenge on his mind. (Thanks to Pedro Pascal’s wriggly performance, Oberyn reminded me of Inigo Montoya, had he hailed from Sodom instead of Spain.) The expository chatting at Littlefinger’s brothel — spiked with a little bit of stabbing — gobbled up more than eight minutes of screen time, which is more than twice as long as a standard TV scene. It flowed from pure sexposition, in which the baring of acrobatic limbs helped establish Oberyn and his"paramour" Ellaria Sand (the terrific Indira Varma) as truth-telling kink merchants, into a second sub-scene in which Oberyn was given the chance to prove both his anti-Lannister bona fides and his effectiveness with the sharper of the two weapons he keeps near his waist. From there, the action moved outside, to allow Oberyn one more chance to Dornesplain his beef — or should that be mutton? — directly to a crisis-managing Tyrion. Oberyn hates everyone who ever crawled out from beneath Casterly Rock, you see. And even though he’s in town thanks to Lannister largesse, that’s not going to stop him from trying to murder as many of them as possible.
The first time I watched the episode, I was enthralled by the way the scene unfolded: the mix of performative swagger and slow-building menace, the way Oberyn and Ellaria had no time for the subtext — to them, one kind of poking is as good as another. When I watched it a second time, I could suddenly see the seams. I was amazed how declarative it all was, Pascal reading pages of explanatory text that, in the wrong hands, could come off as clunky as a book report. But instead it soared as nimbly as Dany’s dragons. Pitch-perfect performances aside, how is such a thing possible?