Home / General / I still know that you’ve seen that I saw you: miscommunication in “Second Sons” (<em>Game of Thrones</em>)

I still know that you’ve seen that I saw you: miscommunication in “Second Sons” (Game of Thrones)


(This is obviously another one of my visual rhetoric posts. The rest can be found where they always are.)

To recap: this is a complement to the most recent podcast Steven Attewell and I produced, on “Second Sons,” in which we discussed, among many things, miscommunication at the wedding of Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. I found my contribution to that part of the discussion lacking, so I decided to demonstrate what I meant about Tyrion coming to dominate a scene that possesses real potential for chaos. The first part can be found here and really needs to be read for the following to make sense.

When we left off, what had been a hostile but orderly wedding banquet teetered on the edge of something. Relations had been frosty but fine until Loras Tyrell reminded people how legs work and walked away from the table, which inspired Tyrion to do something with alcohol. His father, Tywin, noticed his clever son noticing Loras and, aware that Tyrion can become a giant fucking lion when the mood strikes, strode across the hall to talk to him. However, his grandson  (twice-over) had a terrible idea: Joffrey “Baratheon” decided to humiliate his former bride-to-be, Sansa, but caught Margaery Tyrell noticing his planning-face and decided she should be part of it too. All of this happened via glances passing between parties. We resume mere seconds after the last post ended, with Tyrion staring at Sansa’s ass:

This is only unusual not only because, in recent episodes, Tyrion’s been shot in a manner that makes his head appear level to those of the people he’s speaking to. From the camera’s perspective, when he spoke to his father, sister or nephew, he’d ceased being a little person. But earlier in this episode, his height — and its relation to his sexual abilities — had been made an issue when he met with Sansa:

Such is what’s required of him not to stare at her ass. The contrast between this shot before the wedding and the one of his father — that’s Twyin behind him in the first image — is part of both Michelle MacClaren, the director, and Tyrion’s respective plans. In order to make himself appear drunker than he actually is, Tyrion abandons the pretense of being the willful supplicant and lets his eyes rest at their natural level. That it happens to coincide with Sansa’s ass is a happy and convenient coincidence that fails to impress his father:

Note that since she’s merely moving the camera up and to the let about a foot, MacClaren could’ve used a conventional two-shot; but because conventional two-shots create the impression of a bond between characters, she shot them individually. This has two effects: it reinforces the notion that these two are only strategically “intimate,” and it allows Tyrion to dominate the screen when he’s on it. That may not seem significant, but it’s important that the audience, at this moment, see Tyrion as someone capable of dominating the screen:

Is his father behind him? Yes, in the literal sense; but only maybe in the colloquial, because Tywin doesn’t know what Tyrion’s planning. But in a scene in which eyelines and eyeline matches are so important, it’s not a coincidence that while Tywin’s staring directly at his son, Tyrion’s refusing to establish eye contact at all. It was his eyes, after all, that gave away the fact that he was planning something earlier, so no matter how very intently his father stares at him:

Tyrion’s going to refuse to meet that stare, which would allow his father further entry into whatever it is he’s planning. It’s significant that the dialogue at this moment is mostly Tywin talking about the importance of his plans for Tyrion and Sansa coming to fruition. It’s as if he’s trying to stare Tyrion into submission, but it’s not working:

Tyrion won’t return his father’s gaze — because in addition to giving away his own plan, it would suggest consenting with his father’s. So he continues to make contact with everything except his father’s eyes. This is where the situation stands when MacClaren pulls the camera back into the only kind of two-shot that doesn’t suggest a bond between characters, i.e. one in which the characters are looking past each other in different directions:

This is a singular variation of the two one-shots of Tyrion and Sansa earlier in the scene. So intent is Tyrion on not making eye contact with his father that he’s failed to notice that Joffrey’s returned. Tywin recognizes the gravity of the situation: Joffrey’s decided that Tyrion and Sansa should be “gently” escorted to their wedding chambers and stripped for all to see, and Tywin isn’t entirely sure how to tell his grandson that this is a foul idea. So he leaves:

Note that as Joffrey enters and calls for Sansa’s public humiliation, he’s looking right at Margaery. The threat isn’t even implicit: he caught her staring at his planning-face and wants her to know exactly how their upcoming nuptials will end. Tyrion isn’t sure what to do. Whatever his plan had been, Joffrey’s has interrupted it, so Tyrion takes a moment to stare at his wine glass again. He may not be sure what to do next, but he’s certain it’ll involve alcohol. Joffrey then seeks approval from his mother:

Or, more accurately, from the chair she recently vacated. Despite the audience’s initial confusion as to where the characters were in space and in relation to each other, at this point it’s clear that Joffrey’s staring at his mother’s empty chair. Sansa, meanwhile, can no more make eye contact with the boy-king than his mother could. She knows the depravities of which he’s capable. The audience, at this moment, is reminded of what happened when Margaery stared directly at him. One does not make eye contact with the boy king. Tyrion agrees:

He continues to stare at the table evaluating his options. He ignores both Joffrey’s taunt and Sansa’s plea. The situation is so unbearable that the audience is happy to follow everyone’s eyelines to the Tyrion, then to the happy couple’s table: better to be staring at the table cloth than dealing with what’s about to happen. And it is about to happen:

Joffrey turns back to the audience generally, and in the direction of the Tyrell table particularly, and reiterates his terrible idea: Sansa shall be carried to her wedding bed and stripped. Publicly. That she’s not included in this shot indicates that this isn’t really about her. Obviously, Joffrey enjoys humiliating her — but his design here is grander and aimed, along with his eyes, on his future in-laws. Tyrion bides time.

Then he doesn’t:

Now this is a lovely little shot. Tyrion’s pretending to be far more intoxicated than he actually is, so initially the fact that this seems to be a shallow focus shot of nothing could be his drunken perspective. It isn’t. Tyrion’s decided to act, and though it’s difficult to see, there’s the thin edge of a blade in front of Sansa’s down-turned face. MacClaren racks the focus to capture Joffrey’s expression:

Tyrion’s just pulled a knife on the king. Joffrey’s face says it all: “You don’t pull a knife on the king! You don’t pull a knife on the king!” Unless you do:

And here’s the close-up the entire scene’s been setting up: Tyrion staring down Joffrey at eye level. He’s no longer Sansa’s willful supplicant: he’s dominating this close-up and he’s a giant fucking lion and no one has any idea what to do or where to look:

Because he’s Joffrey, Joffrey looks to his mother’s empty chair. Tywin seems to be looking there too, a plaintive glance that somehow communicates his disdain for how Cersei’s raised the boy-king. Margeary seems to be the only one who can look at Tyrion — Olenna stares at her staring at him while Sansa studies the floor and silly me I almost forgot Tyrion continues giving Joffrey the eye-fuck of the century:

Who owns this room? Tyrion owns this room. His father’s impressed:

Note that he’s not making direct eye contact with Tyrion though. He’s looking in the right direction, but not high enough to be looking at Tyrion. The perspective’s a little off here because he’s looking at the camera, so I had to approximate his eyeline. There’s other evidence that he’s not looking precisely at Tyrion though:

Joffrey isn’t looking directly at him either. Note that Sansa and Margaery are looking to Tywin for their cues, because everyone seems to realize what happens when the boy-king’s brought to anger. And he’s certainly angry: he’s been forced to lower his eyes to his uncle because he’s suffering what Elizabeth Loftus calls “weapon focus“:

Except it’s not fear that’s blinding him so much as outrage. You do not pull a knife on the king! But he’s not only offended: he’s profoundly disappointed that what should have been Sansa’s humiliating moment has become his. Tyrion’s ruined the evening’s “entertainment.” He’s upset the king. That Joffrey can’t steal his eyes away from the knife is a telling detail: it’s part and parcel of his reluctance to do anything for himself. He’s as much of a Lannister as a person can possibly be, but he lacks the conviction for self-reliance Tywin tried to teach Jaime in that scene. Unlike Ned Stark, who in the first episode of the series beheaded poor Will in a manner befitting a lord, Joffrey orders knights to kill people and executioners to put them down. Sansa, meanwhile, seems to recognize how precarious her situation is and studies the floor so as not to draw Joffrey’s ire further, and that’s when Tywin calls a stop to it:

He shifts his eyes — but not his body — from the Tyrion’s blade to the enraged boy-king. Significantly, it’s while he’s looking at Joffrey that Tyrion finally relents:

He still dominates the screen — and the room for that matter — but he breaks into an ostensibly drunken laugh and eases the tension among the gathered. That he relents doesn’t change the fact that he’s just put the boy-king in his place, publicly, in a moment of enforced humiliation that Joffrey thought would be his. Little as the victory may matter in the long run, on this day Tyrion’s succeeded where Joffrey failed. He’s taken ownership of his own wedding banquet away from the boy-king who thinks the world belongs to him — who thinks he’s the culmination of his grandfather’s lifetime of scheming. And it’s in this moment that Tywin, for once, seems to agree:

Or sees something on the ceiling and decides to look at it. This is the one eyeline that baffled me. Is he looking at Cersei descending from the balcony maybe? Is this an exaggerated glance at Tyrion for the purpose of making him seem “taller” in the eyes of the assembled? I don’t know. But I do know that his estimation of what Tyrion’s accomplished isn’t out of line with mine. It’s just he doesn’t see the point in needlessly annoying the boy-king. Fortunately for the audience, MacClaren’s been watching the show and understands the joy that comes with watching Joffrey impotently roar.

Especially when it’s at his “little uncle” and especially when it’s because he’s interrupted the boy-king’s reindeer games.

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    Also, they have lasers shooting from their eyes.

    • SEK

      If you can find a more efficient way than color-coded lines to represent individual eyelines, I’m open to suggestions.

      The only alteration I’m considering at the moment is sticking arrows at the terminal end of them, just so the scene can be followed by people who haven’t seen the episode. Because if you have, you presumably know who’s staring at whom, although that can be tricky because with reaction shots — especially when they’re long or extremely long — it’s often difficult to determine who started staring first.

      • Spokane Moderate

        The arrow thing sounds useful. Good idear.

        Though I think at this point they’re only mentioning the lasers because it gets a rise out of you every time. :-)

        • SEK

          But I started it!

          The only thing that annoyed me, honestly, was that Adam and Belle focused on that, when they have enough combined brainpower to light the East Coast.

      • I think the arrows would be great. Little ones, though.

        I’d like it, too, if you could back off just a little on the ORIGIN point when it’s a closeup of the person’s face, so we can see the actual eyes better,

        When you are showing Tyrion’s furious face, you essentially block some of the emotion with the lines, I think because they cover the pupils of his eyes. Could you have started the lines just a mm farther down his face, at the bottom eyelid, or toward the outer edge of the eye, maybe, and still made the point? Or would that have thrown the lines off too much?

        This is only relevant to the closeups, of course. The arrows would be most useful in the crowded cross-line views. Maybe you reserve them for when three? or more sets of eyelines are crossing in a scene.

        • SEK

          That’s not a bad idea. If I re-do the visuals for this post, I’ll back off the eyes a bit. I think the arrows are only necessary in the long and extreme long-shots, though. They’d be useful here, for example, and I’ll probably upload an arrowed version of it and a few others like it a little later.

    • DirkD13

      Awesome. So glad I found this. I love the lasers!

  • Pingback: I see that you’ve seen that I saw you: miscommunication in “Second Sons” (Game of Thrones) - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • I don’t watch the show so I have gained great amusement from looking at the pictures and imagining laser zappy noises and shouts of pain from the people being zapped. Thank you.

    • SEK

      Someone emailed me after the first post asking whether he could animate it. Being that I’m me, I consented. Still, I am trying to make a seriously point here, and LASERS! are easier than fifteen sentences after every image indicating who’s looking at what or whom and why.

      • Animation would be hilarious. But my point is your method provides amusement to those who only know about this show from reading posts like this one.

        That it requires less wear and tear on author and readers is a bonus.

        • SEK

          Fine, fine. I’ll take the compliment.

    • Bill Murray

      I thought Dinklage was just warming up some off camera tea

  • ChrisTS

    I admit to wondering if all this is really intentional. Isn’t it possible that SEK is reading a lot into this scene? I know that great directors put genuine care into their work, even frame by frame, but I have this nagging doubt that so much has gone into one scene in a television program.

    • DocAmazing

      If it’s accidental, it’s pretty damned brilliant. We should all have such accidents.

    • SEK

      Give this particular director’s obsession with staring, I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt. Especially when it’s as orchestrated as this is, with conflicting parties speaking only in glances initially.

    • any moose

      I used to have this opinion in high school.

    • Liam

      I don’t know, I think HBO probably only hires artists who have never given even a single moment of thought to how the technical apects of their craft influence the experience of the audience.

      • ChrisTS

        I’ll reply to you, as I found any moose’s remark rude.

        I am sure these folks are all very conscientious and talented. I was sure, in junior high school, that Melville was symbol-obsessed and talented; I just did not believe that the fact that he used the word ‘white’ 82 times in one chapter was intentional on his part.

        • Rhino

          Not necessarily ‘intentional’, but certainly even if the ordering of shots and the interplay of eyelines was never explicitly story boarded, it still reflects an organized esthetic. The urge behind it could be subconscious, or even instinctive, but the presence of a pattern in this case strongly suggests an organizing force.

          • Hogan

            You might call it . . . intelligent design.

  • rw970

    So is the copyright problem all fixed now? I guess HBO either decided that LGM posts don’t count as substitutes for actually watching their programs, or that the Supreme Court would rules, like Justice Stevens, that inserting lasers into a scene make a work inherently transformative.

    Can we expect more visual posts?

    • SEK

      It’s, um, fixed? That’s all I can say for the moment. But yes, more visual rhetoric.

    • the Mad Monk

      While I Am Not An IP Lawyer, this certainly would seem to satisfy the relevant statute:

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

      If this ain’t fair use, I don’t know what is…

      • Trollhattan

        I’d sure like to think so, at least for everybody but intellectual rights absolutists, for whom every image, note, word or bit of code is as sacrosanct as Nigel Tufnel’s guitar collection. “The sustain, listen to it.”

      • (the other) Davis

        I am an IP lawyer, and I feel confident asserting that under any reasonable reading, each of the four fair use factors favors SEK here.

        Did HBO try to make him take some of these down? I must have missed that.

        It would seem dumb on their part to do so–this is the sort of thing that only increases interest in the show.

        • (the other) Davis

          Okay, I’m exaggerating. Only three of the four factors. (But that includes the two important ones, #1 and #4.)

        • SEK

          Not HBO, AMC complained about some of the Mad Men posts, so we pulled them for a while.

  • max

    Or sees something on the ceiling and decides to look at it. This is the one eyeline that baffled me. Is he looking at Cersei descending from the balcony maybe? Is this an exaggerated glance at Tyrion for the purpose of making him seem “taller” in the eyes of the assembled? I don’t know.

    I thought he was looking at Sansa. Possibly something along the lines of either a) ‘You’ve lucked out, young lady’ b) ‘Is she worth that much to you Tyrion?’

    [‘Or c) ‘That’s enough humiliation for her from that idiot for one evening.”]

    • SEK

      I thought he was looking at Sansa. Possibly something along the lines of either a) ‘You’ve lucked out, young lady’ b) ‘Is she worth that much to you Tyrion?’

      But Sansa’s on the floor at this point, next to Joffrey, so why would he be looking up? (Unless in my attention to detail, I did a forest/trees thing and she’s back next to Tyrion, in which case, mea culpa.)

      • BigHank53

        I’d be willing to bet that of the half-dozen reaction shots they took, this was the best one for conveying the mood of the scene, “Gods, spare me from this travesty of a grandson.”

        The point being that whatever he’s looking at, it’s most definitely not Joffrey.

        • It does kind of seem like a “spare me” look, but he also seems to be focusing on something.

          What do we cut to right after this? Someone on the balcony above?

          • mpowell

            Nah, that’s totally plausible as a ‘spare me’ look. Some people will accuse you of rolling your eyes when you do it.

          • SEK

            What do we cut to right after this? Someone on the balcony above?

            A medium shot of Joffrey slowly walking away from the table. In other words, Big Hank’s correct: he’s deliberately not looking at Joffrey.

    • Rhino

      I cannot help but like tywin lannister. He’s a bastard, but an extremely moral one by his own lights, and with notable blind spots (Tyrian is one), he is not cruel, petty, or mean.

      In some ways he is a tragic figure, his flaw being an inability to see past the good of his own line, and towards the good of humanity. The reverse o the medal killed Ned stark, which makes it even more sad.

      • Mayur

        When your only morality is “I do what’s best for the preservation of me and mine,” it’s not morality, it’s venality in the purest sense of the term.

        Or from another perspective: Tywin is significantly less sympathetic than Walter White in Breaking Bad. Walter at least loves his son and starts off in a truly desperate position, later becoming less and less sympathetic, but still and so.

        Tywin is obsessed with power, pure and simple. The fact that he says (and it’s not even clear that he’s being honest about it) that this power is necessary for the preservation of his family isn’t a presentiment of “morality.” It’s selfish justification.

      • If you think that Tywin Lannister is not cruel, petty, or mean, you seriously do NOT know Tywin Lannister.

        Just as a case in point, consider what he did to his late father’s mistress.


  • Anonymous

    I’m looking forward to someone photoshopping in a full cast of cross-eyed GoT actors with sightlines pointing all over the place, accompanied by a parody of SEK analysis. “Here we see Tyrion taking control of the scene by staring down Joffrey and Tywin at the same time.”

    • SEK

      Well, I could do that myself.

  • Lurker

    While I greatly appreciate the work of professionals, I seriously doubt if the director and cameramen of the movie have really thought these shots through at this level of detail.

    Instead, I would venture that the director and cameramen are more-or-less following the conventions of television. As an analysis of such conventions, this post is great, anyway.

    • What conventions of television were you thinking about? I’m intrigued, especially since you say this post analyzes them well.

    • any moose

      It would be just crazy to think that craftsmen think about their craft

      • Lurker

        I am a craftsman, but many of the choices I make are unconscious. I do them, because they are the way everyone in my trade does them. Normally, I don’t really think them. This is the essence of being a craftsman: the more instinctively I make the correct choices, the better I am. If I needed to think each of my choices, I would not be competent.

        In the same way, I would believe that most choices on the finer points of image layout are made simply according to the customs of the trade. And it is exactly these customs that SEK is now analysing. He’s probably the first to articulate these thought processes, which are unconscious, if you are professional.

        • ChrisTS

          There is also the role of the actors as artists, themselves.

          For example, the “Gods, spare me from this travesty of a grandson” explanation of that look – ascribing it to the actor’s choice – is just as plausible as that the director set it all up.

        • SEK

          If I needed to think each of my choices, I would not be competent.

          That’s a fair point, but remember these decisions are made within constraints — actor’s heights, lighting, etc. — and put together with an editor who frequently crops shots. I remember Euros Lyn emailing me after one of my posts on Doctor Who to confirm what John Rogers had said about a particular close-up being a cropped long shot: he’d wanted the long shot, it didn’t work, so they turned it into a close-up. That sort of decision-making is, in other words, conscious and deliberate.

        • Well, I don’t know. This stuff is deliberately and explicitly TAUGHT in film school. How to make characters in a scene dramatically equal (or unequal), powerful or less powerful, how to rack the focus to give the audience a particular clue or cue, all the sorts of things that Kaufmann has been talking about here are actual discussion topics among professionals and in books, formal schools, and conferences.

          When I was working on the stage, in the very first days of rehearsals we did this thing in which an actor’s every step and movement was blocked out, not just to prevent us from bumping into each other, or to make sure we knew where everyone was going to be, but to create certain EFFECTS for the audience. For example, if the director blocked an actor into a position where he had to turn his back to the audience and look toward another actor, that would convey to the audience that they were supposed to pay attention to the actor being looked at, that her character is going to do or say something important. That’s why I believe it is entirely possible…no, LIKELY, that the director, especially this particular director, laid out these eye-lines and the “dance” of the wedding feast very, very carefully.

          • Anna in PDX

            To me, not that I am Any sort of expert on film, if you are taught an artistic principle and practice it for any length of time, it gets less and less conscious. My harp teacher is teaching me accompaniment techniques and chord progressions and I can tell that, for her, it is making something explicit that long ago became implicit for her. I have to know and think about when to use a diminished seventh, but to her it just works when it works, so that she can riff on the fly.

            • Lurker

              Yep. The true professionalism means two things:
              a) when working, using the conventions and techniques of the craft without consciously thinking them.
              b) being able, after finishing, to analyse the work theoretically.

              If you fail on either point, you may still create good art, but something is missing. It is, of course, possible to work applying the rules of the art and genre consciously and deliberately on each and every step. However, then you lose on the vividness and may become stale.

              On the other hand, if you don’t know the theory, you are confined to the genre and will be unable to transcend its boundaries. You can still be a prodigy, but there is something missing.

              • I’m really late to this post but I have to point out, contra Lurker, that the notion that (some) art and craft are largley unconcious may or may not be true for an individual artist working alone, but it is hardly ever likely to be true for a group activity that includes many sub specialities which all have to be co-ordinated. Sure: a great Japanese treasure of a potter may work until what he does is instinctive. But the pyramids don’t get built that way. Co-ordination takes forethought and takes making certain things explicit.

      • ChrisTS

        Why be so aggressively defensive on this? Asking how much we as audience bring into the interpretation of works of art is hardly a new thing and certainly does not imply contempt for the artistry of those who create the works.

  • Hob

    An interesting layer of the scene in the book, which is less present in the show because they (probably wisely) didn’t go into exposition mode to set it up, is that when Joffrey talks about stripping the newlyweds, for once it’s not some weird sadistic stunt of his own devising. It’s a traditional part of aristocratic weddings in Westeros, serving a similar purpose to the endless series of embarrassing baby pictures and mildly dirty heh-heh-it’s-your-wedding-night jokes I’ve seen people subjected to at big suburban WASP weddings. There’s definitely an element of coercion and humiliation, but everyone is supposed to agree that it’s all in good fun. So when it’s brought up by Joffrey, a guy for whom clearly nothing is ever in good fun, the guests aren’t thinking “WTF are you talking about” so much as “Oh God, won’t someone give us an excuse to skip that part,” and Tyrion provides them with a good excuse.

    • Lurker

      If Martin was trying to allude to the old Germanic customs, here’s an explanation of the medieval Swedish law:
      a) The wedding ceremony performed by the church was optional (until 1734), and not legally binding (until 17th century) in secular sense.
      b) The actual wedding took place when the bride’s father (or her legal “marrier”) uttered the ceremonial words: “I give you my daughter as a honourable wife to hold and to have one half of the bed, the keys of the warehouses, and one third of all coin, all movable and all real property you will have, and to all the right that the law of Uppland, given by the Saint Eric has, and Saint Eric gave.”
      c) The final wedding ceremony took place in the bedchamber. In the simple form, witnesses escorted the bridal pair into the bedchamber, the pair stripped to their underwear and they were covered by a blanket and left alone. In full form, the ceremony was performed by 12 witnesses, 6 from each family, and a priest blessed the pair after they were covered.

      Only b) was legally binding wedding. Part c) was not required for validity but without it, the marriage could be annulled as not fulfilled.

      So, even according to these relatively barbaric customs, witnessing the actual copulation was too much. That happened only in certain Central European noble families which really placed a great deal of weight on making annulment on grounds of “non-fulfilled marriage” impossible.

      As a social matter, you can imagine that the ceremony “c)” can only be extremely solemn if it is to remain respectable. Otherwise, it will detoriorate into horseplay and bawdy jokes. (It did. The Swedish church forbade the churchmen to attend it in the mid-17th century just for this reason.)

    • We haven’t seen it on the show (yet), but it is a standard part of the ceremony and it is supposed to be fun – a kind of controlled naughtiness. It’s not a case of them being stripped completely and seen by the whole party, rather the groom and bride get gradually stripped down to their underwear and shoved into bed, at which point they shove everyone out and make a lot of noise outside the chamber (music, jokes, etc.) to cover the noise of the new couple. Renly’s wedding, for example, is rather jolly, and Loras is right there to make sure Margaery isn’t being handled too roughly.

      What makes this hideous is that Joffrey’s forcing it on two unwilling people and a crowd of strangers who don’t have the kind of trust that makes this ok.

      Historical note – one of the causes of the breakdown in relationship between Tywin and the Mad King was that Aerys was hot for Tywin’s wife, made comments about what a pity it was that prima noctae had been abolished, and then took unspecified liberties during the bedding.

      So for Tywin, Joffrey’s actions here are resonating Bad Kingly.

      • Lurker

        it is a standard part of the ceremony and it is supposed to be fun – a kind of controlled naughtiness.
        I’d like to disagree. To be “fun”, the official bedding would require the participants to know and trust each other. This is very seldom the case in any marriage. Even if the bride and the bridegroom know each other, the in-laws do not. To avoid collapsing into vulgarity, the participants must do the opposite: increase the solemnity.

        I can note this from experience of having been numerous times in mixed saunas as a college student involved in (Finnish type of) fraternity life. Even with drunk students, the mood changes to more quiet and the talk becomes extremely non-sexual, when you start undressing for sauna. Everyone avoids vulgarities, just so that the absence of clothes can be compensated by appropriate behaviour.

        • Well, my experience is based only on Sharon Key Penman novels, so all I’ll say is that the English bedding ceremony might be a bit different from the Swedish or Germanic in the levity to solemnity quotient.

  • David Hunt

    I’m vastly disappointed that with 30 comments here and some in the previous eye-line comments, no one has pointed out that Dr. Evil asking for “Sharks with fricking lasers was a typo. He was obviously asking for Starks with lasers.

    • Heron

      Well, I was going to but then you had to post that comment 2 hours before I read this article, so now I can’t. Thanks a lot >:(

  • Heron

    These are great posts, and really starting to think about how media gets put together in a technical sense and why has increased my enjoyment of the shows I watch by at least 10-fold. Also the eye-lasers are great and clear in a way tiny arrows wouldn’t be. Keep being excellent, SEK :)

    • Trollhattan

      Seconded, and because of them I’m now busy picking apart certain Mad Men scenes that use these techniques to great effect. I have a much harder time parsing GOT because it took me three seasons to figure out who the hell all these folks and clans and lands are. And it helps not one bit they’re constantly killing off main characters and flinging new ones at us.

      Guessing it helps some to have read the books.

      • ChrisTS

        :-) My husband asked me if I liked the new season (he quite earlier on), and I said it really seems great now that I have some idea of who is who.

        • ChrisTS

          bah: quit.

    • SEK

      Thanks! These posts are much more difficult — not to mention time-consuming — to write than snarking at conservatives, so the encouragement to write them certainly helps.

      • muddy

        You have opened a whole new world to me with these posts! Now I notice these kind of things all the time. Actually I was in a meeting where there was some bad feeling and jockeying for position and I started imagining the colored eyelines in the room like a cat’s cradle. I barely restrained myself from saying, Pew pew! It made the meeting a lot better, thanks.

      • Barry Freed

        They’re truly excellent and are giving me the urge to watch all of BtVS for about the 14th time with all this in mind.

    • I agree, and want to add that the podcasts are also great.

  • Sharculese

    Slightly OT, are we possibly gonna get an visual rhetoric posts on Hannibal? It seems like a show where it would be appropriate.

    • SEK

      I’ve already done one, haven’t I? Anyway, send me an email at [email protected] and I can send you a .pdf of one that’ll be going up … somewhere else, shortly, if all goes well. (And that’s an open invite to all interested.)

      • SEK

        Link didn’t work that time. Let’s try it again!

      • Sharculese

        Oh! I read that post but I had totally forgotten about it until I went back and checked your other site. I don’t think I had started watching the show really closely at that point, the first couple episodes my roommate and I were pretty drunk for.

        Great insight as always. I’ll definitely hit you up for the .pdf. (And if I interpret the comments on that post correctly, that’s awesome, and I’m super stoked for it.)

    • Uncle Ebeneezer

      Also too, Boardwalk Empire, if you ever get into it.

  • Jon H

    Someone should photoshop Cyclops in the background whenever possible, with an eye-beam off to nowhere of importance.

  • Gregor Sansa Stark

    I can never tell if Joffrey is actually a good actor or just well typecast.

    • SEK
      • HA!

        Reminds me of my own kids.

        Except they never quite got to the Joffrey stage in their terrible teens. Not QUITE.

    • Joseph Nobles

      I go with good acting on the basis of how craven Gleeson is committed to make Joffrey when need be. A couple of his reaction sounds to being slapped by Tyrion should be as famous as the Wilhelm scream.

  • Joseph Nobles

    And if you know the books, you can just see how much is being set up, from the last episode to a good chunk of the King’s Landing story in the fourth season. It’s power-packed in there.


    Asking questions are in fact good thing if you are not understanding anything totally, except this piece of writing provides pleasant understanding yet.

    • ChrisTS

      Is this machine poetry?

      • Paul Clarke

        No, it’s spam for some sort of Facebook marketing software.

    • WUT?

  • Anonymous

    overthinking spaz

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  • D.

    Wow, articles like this remind me why I love the internet oh so very much. Thank you, such a pleasant break from the news! Now I gotta return to resisting my authoritarian government. #direngeziparki

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