Iron Thrones and Tin Men

October 11, 2017 — Leave a comment

***Spoilers for Game of Thrones and Tin Star***

Grimacing. Image credit: HBO

Not to rehash the many gripes about Game of Thrones near-total abandonment of logic, but I will clarify that the complaint is, here, at least, not that characters’ travels up and down the Seven Kingdoms aren’t shown, but rather those journeys that should take days elapse in an afternoon. A solid conception of time and place, grounding the fantastic, has always been vital to Game of Thrones’ success, without which it descends to grimacing and bickering with dragons. And so it goes.

Very clearly the programme is no longer following the path laid out by a complex series of novels but rather that of a group of producers wrapping up as many plotlines as possible. Obviously George RR Martin hasn’t published the rest of his tale but consider that every death in his novels – no matter how bleak – advanced the story. Compare that to the decisions made in last two seasons: Too many characters? Blow up the Sept. Cersei needs gold? Have her invade a surprisingly undefended High Garden. The Night King needs a dragon? Etc…

I could go on but none of this is to say that it isn’t all a splendid, thrilling treat for the adrenal gland. The confrontation between Lannister forces and Daenerys’s barbarian horde and dragons deserves special mention as much for ‘Action Scene of the Year’ as its convincing depiction of the devastating potential of Westeros’s nuclear option. Less shocking now, however, are the deaths of central characters, as their demises are more plot tidying and there isn’t enough time for anymore schemes to be spun. (Excepting the scheme wherein Cersei employs the Golden Company, a 10-20,000-strong (Cersei doubles the sum mentioned in an earlier season and the books) mercenary army that was strangely absent throughout the conflicts in Essos.)

We have to wait until 2019 to see who, if anyone, claims the Iron Throne, but with the best of the series behind us, it won’t pass for much more than a light entertainment. Hopefully they might come up with slightly less ridiculous spectacles than closing scene of the finale. Jump the shark? Jump the dragon.

Fans of heavy entertainment should look no further than Tin Star (Sky Atlantic), a bizarre and rather confused police drama starring Tim Roth as a British cop, Jim Worth, relocated to a sleepy, rural Canadian town. Roth is always excellent – one of the great expletive throwers in the biz and a face so lived in it could be a crack den – but it’s difficult to get behind a show that has a masked gunman blow the face off a toddler in the first episode. One might feel that everything to follow has been thrown out with the bathwater.

Image credit: Sky Atlantic

The child murderer (an act which also hospitalises Worth’s wife) is one of a quartet of generically quirky criminals (fans of Justified will be familiar with the trope) who have followed him from Britain. If you can stomach body popping at an open-mic-night in the second episode, there’s squirmy but engaging viewing to be had as the killer cosies up to the sheriff’s daughter in the third. Oh, and Worth is an alcoholic. And how does Christina Hendricks fit into it all – something about an oil company? Well, quite.

Worth’s efforts investigations into Hendricks and her satanic corporation would’ve been the much more interesting narrative, but unfortunately the plot meanders through too many strands and too much familiar anger and angst of its male lead. AA Gill always said that the main characters of US dramas could be all kinds of bastards so long as they were outstanding at their jobs – this is the British-Canadian equivalent: bad person, mediocre policeman.

Jacob Knowles-Smith

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