Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Game of Thrones, 'Baelor'

Great source material can be a curse for a TV series. For the first several episodes of the season, adapters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did a fine job bringing George R.R. Martin's novel faithfully to the screen, but at times it was too faithful. About five episodes in, with the also excellent "The Wolf and the Lion," the series found its own voice. "Baelor" was its big test — spoiler alert, though it should go without saying — in which GOT had to kill off its lead character, Ned Stark. Unsurprisingly, it stunned viewers who hadn't read the book. But even if you knew what was coming, the exquisite final sequence was a wallop: Ned, about to have his head lopped off for being too true to his moral code, catchs one last glimpse of his daughter Arya in the hooting crowd, then sees that she has been spirited to safety. A lovely, heartbreaking chapter that sold the series' theme: in this world, being good is not always enough.