Game of Thrones

HBO's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' TV Show


What the Critics Said

The big delay in our episode 8 write-up was due to a lot of things, and those things made covering the post-episode coverage quite difficult. Then the massive flood of visitors post-episode 9 left us scrambling to keep the servers (yes, servers, plural) from melting down, with traffic spiking as high as 200% of normal—crazy! So, this list of links to what some of the top-flight critics have to say on the web is a bit belated… but better late than never, we say.

  • James Poniewozik - A theme that may developing among the critics is the fact that with the death of Ned Stark, the show has lost its “protagonist”, and Poniewozik highlights that even if in a traditional drama that may be the case, the show has been quietly and thoroughly developing a number of characters to hold similar prominence.
  • Todd VanDerWerff - Thorough as always, he runs through the whole episode, highlighting some key thematic and storytelling points.  And, sounding a minor note that we notice among a couple of other critics, he wouldn’t have minded a bit more of a battle sequence than what was given. David Sims has some good points from a non-reader perspective, as well.
  • Maureen Ryan - She’s particularly tough on the lack of a big battle, calling on HBO to loosen the purse strings a bit. You know, our own position is that while the spectacle would have been nice… would it really draw in viewers? Outside of a small minority of diehards who appear to hate the whole episode (yes, even all the good bits, of which there were many) because of a lack of sturm und drang on the battlefield seems really affected by this. But, yeah, sure, if HBO might opt to find some way to get a bit more VFX budget into the show—just to honor the material as much as they can—I would certainly praise them.
  • Jace Lacobs - Catches an interesting bit of possible symbolism that we hadn’t caught, involving birds and death. Those writers (and director Alan Taylor) are a clever bunch!
  • Alan Sepinwall—Comments on the lack of a battle, but also points out that he’d much rather have what the show gave than to trim some of the meaty drama for some bust-em-up action; I agree, at least. Besides that, he also notes that anyone who follows industry news probably had an inkling that Ned was not long for this world…
  • Scott Meslow - Excellent thoughts on the subject of death as it’s treated in the episode.
  • James Hibberd - His recaps are, as always, hilarious. But he spends two pages considering the impact on Ned’s death on viewership, noting those viewers who claimed they’re giving up the show; we rather suspect the vast majority will reconsider. After all, any show that makes you feel that strongly? It’s doing something right. Hibberd also scores a number of important interviews connected to this episode, with Sean Bean, Benioff and Weiss, and HBO exec Sue Naegel.

Finally, this wasn’t so much a review as an upfront, emotional expression of shock and outrage, but it’s really excellent. Larry Williams of OtakuAssembles has boundless enthusiasm for the show, and has captivated fans with his post-episode discussions… so when he blew up over Ned Stark’s death, well, it was something else. Here’s his discussion:

And as a bonus, he happens to have filmed himself watching the final minutes live… check in at around the 5 minute mark to see what happens as the episode closes!