To all who lament television’s sharp descent into unscripted hell, “Blackwater” reminded us of what the television medium can do. This was epic storytelling at its finest. Any deficiencies in settings or backdrop, such as the facts that the magnificent city of Qarth appears to be little more than a series of rooms, and Jon Snow’s trek in beyond the Wall seems to involve walking back and forth across a single span of glacier, have led to the spectacle of the Battle of the Blackwater.
Who is the “good guy” in this battle? The lack of an easy answer to that question is at the heart of the story’s genius. We like Tyrion and want him to succeed, but his success most likely means the Lannisters’ success. We don’t much care for Stannis Baratheon, but we like Davos Seaworth. Same problem. The closest thing to a “protagonist” army that we have are those of Robb Stark and Daenerys Targaryen, and we’re beginning to see that they aren’t much better than anyone else.
This episode focused exclusively on the events of a single night in King’s Landing, so we got to see much more development of individual characters than usual. Tyrion got one of the best Braveheart speeches in television history, and finally served as a heroic character rather than a comic one (see last season’s battle fought while Tyrion was unconscious, the only time the show has ever overtly resorted to “dwarf humor.”)
Sansa demonstrated her own strength and leadership when Cersei fled their hiding place with Tommen. Unfortunately, she may have lost the only two people who ever truly protected her in King’s Landing: Tyrion, who is now wounded, and the Hound, who is running away. Cersei at least understands the importance of keeping Sansa alive, but we know that she will not step up to protect Sansa if Joffrey threatens her. Continue reading