Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sansa Stark: Episodes 4, 5 & 6 - with special guest Arya!

     When last we saw Sansa, she was still mourning the loss of Lady and in full-on resentful-teen mode.

     And she hasn't changed much since. Sansa is back in the dress she wore at the Inn at the Crossroads: light blue, bell sleeves, knotting at the neck designed to call to mind a wreath of flowers. The same dress she was wearing when she lost Lady. She's worried about her marriage to Joffrey, particularly that she might not be able to bear him any sons, and that everyone will hate her. Septa Mordane is, as ever, kind and awesome. After this conversation Sansa recommits to endearing herself to Joffrey. She's had enough of cold reality; now it's time for a fairytale tournament!

     This dress was most likely made specially for the tournament, and Sansa's clearly taken extra care with her appearance. This look, from dress to hair is a combination of northern and southern styles. This event is in honor of her father, but she's trying to impress Joffrey and get him back on her team.

     Sansa is slowly but surely becoming evermore the southern lady. This dress is lavender, a color we've never seen her wear before but exactly between her usual light blues and her eventual southern pinks ; the detailing at the neck is designed to look like a wreath of roses. That design element is an adapted version of her usual knotted neckline, but much more elegant and clearly more expensive. This is also the most skin Sansa has ever shown; she's trying to look mature and start acting like a grownup. And her hair is inching closer to full-on Cersei Lannister crazybraids. She's got the cinnamon buns on top of her head, but she's kept her single northern twist and let the rest of her hang loose like her mother. Compare her to Arya here: the prim southern lady and the unkempt northern girl. It is notable how put relatively put-together Arya looks here. No doubt Septa Mordane caught her chasing cats a few hours ago and made her take a bath. The scarf/collar beneath her tunic looks like northern roughspun but is embroidered in a way that calls to Sansa's richer and delicate roses. If she got Arya into all this, Septa Mordane must be a force to be reckoned with.

Arya you are the cutest and even your nice clothes have detachable sleeves because you are a warrior.

     Petyr Baelish, you are a giant creep. Arya seems very suspicious of him and even Sansa is a little weirded out as well she should be. Sansa continues to wear her dragonfly necklace. She is a delicate little thing and her innocence is quite resilient, since it survives this massively disturbing conversation with Littlefinger in addition to all the over-the-top tournament-sanctioned bloodshed.

Petyr Baelish: still creeping.

     On the next day at the Hand's Tourney she's wearing the exact same outfit as before (again, this ensemble was probably produced specially and expensively). Sansa still hasn't forgiven her father and is giving him a cold shoulder, acting as prim and grown-up as she can. Then Gallant Ser Loras brings Sansa a rose, the perfect image of the fairytale knights from Sansa's books, and she's a little girl again, living her dream. There are a lot of similarities between Loras and Sansa, which will become very notable in Season Three. Here they share a theme of roses: she has roses on her dress, he has roses on his armor and saddle blanket. Sansa grabs her father's arm and tells him not to let Ser Gregor hurt Loras, and the look on Ned's face when he realizes she needs her dad again is so precious. While she's doing her level best to be a cool and collected lady, she is still a little girl, hoping (and once more trusting) that her father can make everything okay.

     While Sansa's been working hard to be a proper Southern Lady, this is the first time we see her hair go full-on Cersei. And this is a very significant scene! Because...

     Joffrey the Fairytale Prince is back! 

     Joffrey decides to follow his mama's advice and Does Something Nice for the Stark Girl. To wit: he brings her a Lannister Lion necklace. We have a theory that all the Lannister men give their women these necklaces. Cersei's necklace is symbolic of her relationship with Jaime; Tyrion makes a gift of (a MASSIVE) one to Ros, perhaps as a subtle jab at his family. And now Sansa has one too.

Moth ring!

     Can you honestly blame Sansa for believing that her life with Joff is going to be a fairy tale? The way this scene is shot, that kiss at the end: it is like a goddamn Disney movie. They are even awash in the golden glow of the evening sun. (Ironically, Sansa's relationship with Joff does sort of turn out like a classically gruesome, non-Disneyfied fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm would approve.)

     And just when Sansa's decided to trust Ned again, he announces that they're heading home to Winterfell. Sansa is such a little girl here, and it is sad but still cute: "I love Joffrey! I'm meant to be his queen and have his babies!" Arya replies "Seven Hells," and when Sansa says she wants Joffrey instead of someone "brave and gentle and strong" Arya gives the most excellent smirk we've ever seen. 

     Then their conversation about Joffrey and how he's nothing like his father leads to Ned having an epiphany about how Punnett Squares work, so a fed up Arya drags Sansa out to pack. Pack like the wind, girls!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Arya Stark: Season 1, Episodes 4-10

     When we next see Arya, she is deeply committed to her dancing master's training. This includes balancing exercises that (because it's Arya) are adorable.

     Arya has clearly never been happier, rattling off bits of Syrio's sword wisdom and her plans to chase cats, taking every hurt as a lesson. She asks her father if she could be a great leader someday, to which he replies that she will marry well and have sons to do that for her.

     Arya is understandably unhappy with this answer, and replies, "No. That's not me," before going right back to dancing practice. Ned's doesn't quite know what to do with Arya. He wants her to be happy (hence providing her with a teacher), but can't see a future where her training could be put to use.

     Arya wears a shirt and pants to practice "dancing." They are the sort of rough clothes a boy would wear to practice swordplay. Other than the shirt (which is one she wears under her northern dresses), Arya's practice clothes don't fit her particularly well, and that belt was clearly made for someone much larger than she is. Arya probably wouldn't have any trousers of her own; our best guess is that these belonged to Ned or one of his men and he had them altered to (sort of) fit her. Note the scarf she wears wrapped around her neck: her mother wears one just like it.


     Arya's new clothes make her stand out, and apart from the ladies of the court to the viewer. But in the palace itself, her dirty, ill-fitting clothes might make her conspicuous for her lack of finery, but simultaneously almost invisible because of it. Also: cats. Sansa has a delicate winged creatures motif, Arya has a cat motif. And all swordsmen should study cats.

     Arya is starting to have the ability to blend in anywhere she goes. Even Varys the Spider doesn't notice her hiding in the shadows of the dragon's bones.

     Arya also sports a practical ponytail now, rather than braids, reinforcing her current look of common born obscurity.

     And she has no trouble blending in with the smallfolk and fishermen in the city, either. (Foreshadowing!) She really does fit in anywhere...

     Except the palace. The Knights Who Say Ni over there mistake her for a street urchin and try to send her on her way. But for the first time Arya unleashes her inner Sansa and tells them that she is the daughter of the Hand of the King, and if they touch her, her lord father will have their heads on spikes.

     Daddy Stark chastises her for running off and sends her back to her room. As per usual, they are both cast in shadow. Even though Arya mostly wears androgynous clothes now, she doesn't really resemble a high-born child, male or female. She looks like a common-born boy, wearing his father's hand-me-downs.

     Arya's having one last dancing lesson before leaving King's landing. Again; giant trousers and a belt that was clearly intended for an adult man. These clothes tie her to Syrio in this scene: they have almost the exact same silhouette.

     Syrio lunges left when he tells Arya to go right, and when she is indignant about his lying gives Arya a little speech, and final lesson.

"My tongue lied; my eyes shouted the truth. You were not seeing. Watching is not seeing, Dead Girl. The seeing, the true seeing: that is the heart of swordplay."

     And then Janos Slynt and some Lannister guards come to take Arya... somewhere. Or kill her, possibly. BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN.  Syrio (in a nice continuation of his demonstration) sees through their lies, and Arya picks up her wooden sword, seeing too.

     No amount of Braavosi bravado will stop them from attacking, but Syrio isn't First Sword of Braavos for nothing.

     As Syrio holds them off, Arya begs him to come with her. Arya doesn't want to run but Syrio reminds her what she must say to the God of Death. 

Not today, motherfucker. Not today.

So Arya runs.
And runs.
And stabs a kid.

     And runs some more, disappearing for the first (but by no means last) time.

     It's safe to assume that Arya has been wandering the streets for days or possibly weeks without money or a place to lay her head. She is wearing the clothes she had on when she escaped the palace, her hair still in its ragged ponytail, her blouse untucked and hanging down as it would when beneath a dress.  Ever resourceful, Arya wrings a pigeon's neck and attempts to trade it for a lemon tart. Who says she and Sansa have nothing in common?

     But it would seem that Arya has places to be.

     Arya watches as her father is dragged to the Sept of Baelor, in front of a jeering crowd, to be publicly humiliated and executed. But Arya still has Needle and damn it if she isn't going to try to do something.

     She runs through the crowd, and probably would have tried to take down the Lannisters single-handed if Yoren hadn't seen and stopped her.

     But the heartbreaking truth is that neither Arya nor anyone else can do anything to save Ned. So she does the only thing she can: she buries her face in Yoren's chest and closes her eyes.

     Some trauma and a haircut later, it's goodbye Arya Stark and hello Arry the Orphan Boy, first of Arya's many alter egos.

     Yoren gives her a rundown of what will happen to her if she doesn't remember to keep a low profile. They're heading to the Wall where she could be safe with big bro Jon Snow, but it's a long way to go, and in bad company.

     Arry is introduced to the life of common orphan through the traditional bullying of the weak. Hotpie's mistake is to think that Arry's the weak one in this situation. 

"You want [my sword], I'll give it to you. I've already killed one fat boy. I bet you never killed anyone. I bet you're a liar. But I'm not. I'm good at killing fat boys. I like killing fat boys."
     Hotpie backs away quickly (like anyone would, goddamn, Arya) and straight into Gendry, who gives his own version of Arya's threats, replacing 'sword' for hammer and anvil. Gendry's is good at what he does, and immediately recognizes Needle as castle-forged steel.

Best roadtrip buddies, hooray!

     And so Arya leaves King's Landing in a far different manner than she entered it. From a lord's daughter to an orphan boy, from the finest silks she refused to wear to ragged hand-me-downs, from reluctant lady to true fighter, from her father's protection to the dangers of the road. She's Arya Stark, though, whatever guise she's in. The list of dangers on the road should have her at the top.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Catelyn Stark: Episodes 3 - 6 & 8 - 10, with special guest Lysa Arryn!

Note: This post will involve many jokes about Harry Potter and Gormenghast. It was unavoidable. 

SPOILER ALERT: A Storm of Swords and (probably) GoT season four.

     Mama Stark traveled all the way from Winterfell to King's Landing with only Ser Rodrik in order to warn Ned about the Lannisters and how they may or may not have tried to kill Bran twice. She is traveling light with only one guard and, as far as we can tell, only one outfit. Her clothes are well-made but plain, in shades of green that are somewhat drab. The road is dangerous and King's Landing even moreso. Cat does not want to call attention to herself: these are her Go Get Shit Done clothes. She will wear this basic outfit in various configurations for the rest of the season - the scarf in particular will do a lot of heavy lifting.

While making these photosets, we were loathe to cut Ser Rodrik out of any of them because we love his beard so much.

     Lady Stark and Ser Rodrik are probably a touch overdressed for summer in King's Landing. Cat is without a doubt the most modestly dressed woman in Littlefinger's brothel (as she reminds him, she is no back alley Sally). While Petyr is probably right that a brothel is the last place most people would think to look for Lady Stark, she certainly stands out in her heavy, dark wool robe with dark fur cuffs and somewhat matronly northern hairstyle. (Compare her to the prostitute in the background, in her colorful, revealing clothes with hair that is doing its best to mimic the Queen's.)

"Not looking at the prostitutes. Not gonna look at all."

     There was no reason to include this picture except that Cat's head popping out of the window is cute and we want to watch Littlefinger get messed with again.
     Note to Ned Stark: when someone tells you not to trust him, you should listen.

     So remember a couple of posts ago when we discussed Sansa and Joffrey's clashing outfits as a harbinger of things to come in their relationship? Here we see a couple who have a strong and loving relationship, dressed in outfits that compliment each other almost perfectly. Even though Ned had no way of knowing Cat was coming, they look family-portrait perfect together. (Albeit a gloomy, somber family.)

     The last time Ned and Cat see one another. The simplicity of their clothes, the setting, and the dialogue serve to highlight the strength of their relationship. They are not Lord and Lady Stark here, they are Cat and Ned, loving husband and wife, saying goodbye.

Hey, it's Marillion. Sup Marillion? Sorry about your tongue.  

     This entire trip, Cat has been trying for some discretion. And it's no different here: she hopes that her simple clothes will help her blend in at the Inn at the Crossroads. It works for a while, but then who should come in but Tyrion Lannister, making no attempt to conceal himself whatsoever, not to mention calling attention to Cat by greeting her by name when he sees her.  

     Cat has the best faces here. Tyrion should have run the second she looked at him like that.

Check out that braid hanging down her back from beneath her headscarf, and remember the Game of Clothes essential equation: BRAIDS + COMMENTARY = IMPORTANT

     Tyrion, however gets more than he bargained for when Lady Stark drops the scarf, and the just-a-simple-traveler act, and calls on all the men in the Inn loyal to House Tully to seize Tyrion. Make no mistake: Mama Stark is in charge here. (Do note the thick braid she's been wearing ever since leaving King's Landing.

     In this scene, Tyrion starts to poke holes in Cat's "Tyrion Lannister came into my home and sent an assassin after my son" theory. And Cat begins to doubt herself, ever so slightly. Not that she'd admit it. Same basic outfit (the scarf she was wearing over her head is now wrapped around her neck) but this variation is perhaps a bit more Catelyn Tully than Lady Stark. Her light blue gown is clearly visible under her dark robes. Check out that braid: Cat may be shaken up after after that battle, but her hair is demonstrating her resolve.

     But here is Lady Stark, on a black horse with a wolf pelt around her shoulders. She looks completely at home on the rocky bluffs of the Vale.

     And now it's time to visit the Eyrie, the creepy-ass Ravenclaw tower with a healthy dose of Gormenghast.

Seriously, it looks like Death Owls should be roosting all up in there.
      Tyrion warned Cat than her sister had gotten a lot crazier in the five years since they'd last met, but she remains skeptical, right up until she actually sees her breastfeeding her eight-year-old. (It's saying something that one can't concretely state that this is the height of Lysa's crazy. There's just so much!)

     Lysa doesn't so much sit as perch upon her throne. It is placed high and made out of a tree.

Yep, that's the face of someone sure they made the right decision.

     Lysa has been living in King's Landing until recent events, and some of her wardrobe still reflects the Cersei-mandated fashions. But here in her own court she wears an ensemble unique to the Vale. The high collar, sleeveless gowns, and opened-armed capes all reflect a feeling of air and flight. Her hair is attempting an intricate style that invokes a crown, but the braids falling over her shoulders are sloppy and become ragged at the ends, indicating a lack of consistency in Lysa's mental state. She's in charge, but her paranoia has created an unstable hold on her lands within her own mind.
     Her son is never apart from her for long - she obsesses over his health and has coddled him to an extent that has actually fostered some of her own madness within him. The child is bloodthirsty, and his moods swing back and forth just as much as his mother.

All she needs is a twin sister and she'd be in the running for Cora and Clara Groan. (Oh wait, she's basically created one in her son, so....)
Everything's just a little off here. Hens a'roosting.

     The Eyrie definitely has is own style - aside from hue all the women are dressed identically, and even the colors (sorted into different pairs) are washed out, the colors of clouds. The only other sign of variety within the ladies of the court is hairstyle - they're all mimicking Lysa (sans crown), but a few are wearing airy bits of tulle in their hair (because sometimes the Eyrie has 50s-themed sockhops).

Cersei doesn't have a monopoly on weirdly inbred gossipy clones for ladies in waiting.

     Seriously, can we talk about how Lysa's Ladies-in-Waiting look like a flock of creepy birds? The men and women mostly wear a similar style of cape; the collars are high and made of a stiff fabric that creates the illusion of a bird's long neck. The stiff fabric extends into a yoke in the mens' versions - the pleated capes hanging off the shoulders invokes the high wings of birds of prey. Even the warriors in their dark armor carry heavy cloaks slung across their shoulders. No one escapes the fashions of Vale!

     Cat is clearly trying to hold this show together, attempting a fair and legal trial despite her sister's deranged shrieks.  Lysa keeps her arms free from her robes, displaying the fabric cuffs that attach to her wrists - if she raised her arms, the image of wings would be complete.

     Lysa, it's really hard for us all to take your accusations against the Lannisters seriously considering you were the one who poisoned your husband. Maybe in her twisted mind she's even started to believe her own story

     Oh, Cat, your sensible clothes are the only non-crazy thing in this room. Listen to your instincts girl! I know she's your sister and you don't want to admit wrong, but damn.

     At the trial, Lysa has ditched her regular robes for this heavy knitted version - her son of course continues to be dressed in identical Mommy and Me clothes. These fabrics feel more armored than her usual fair - and this pattern - the only pattern we ever see her wear) looks just like feathers.

     This gown is a mixture of the ladies and mens clothing at the Eyrie - the heavy flowing robes of the women, the birds of prey shoulder design of the men, and an imposing quality that's all Lysa.

"Hmm, am I gonna be reasonable and not-crazy today? Nope!"

     Did y'all know Jon Arryn's second wife was named Rowena? Creepy Ravenclaw Tower.

     Cat is back in the green shift that connects her to Ned, and creating a sartorial barrier between her and her sister. Cat refers to Ned all through this scene, questioning her sister and asking for her support against the Lannisters.

     Lysa is back in a King's Landing robe (so convenient for breastfeeding, especially for an aggressive eight year old). She is in her private quarters, and these robes are clearly more comfortable than her bird capes. It also serves to draw her allegiance away from Cat and her family and back towards King's Landing. By refusing to help her sister, she is defacto siding with the Lannisters, and her clothes enforce that idea.

     Cat finally leaves her sister to stew in her insanity, and rides off to join her son's army. This is the first time we see Cat in the black and furs of a Stark warrior - but that is just what she has become, leaving the Tully side of her behind with Lysa.

So dark, so imposing. But then you see Ser Rodrick's beard and it's hilarious all over again!

     When she hugs Rob, the green and blues of her clothing are clearly visible beneath the furs - she is here as queen of Winterfell defending her own, and these colors are of her family.

     Cat blends in well with the warrior lords of the Rob's council; her robes convey a sense of belonging within this group - Cat's position is never questioned.

     Cat rides to the Freys to ask them to allow passage over the river. Some of the Frey kids actually seem pretty okay, but Argus Filch over here just gets grosser and grosser. Check out that sideeye Cat's giving as he gropes his new fifteen-year-old wife. Sooooo gross. Cat'a a good diplomat, and promises to marry Arya and Rob off to two of Frey's children in exchange for his support. Gee, I really hope no part of this arrangement will go terribly wrong and lead to a horrifying tragedy.

     Ever since Cat left Winterfell and throughout all her travels, whether peeping from under her scarf or out in the open, Cat has worn a simple, thick braid which hangs down her back. Here, as she walks through camp as a queen, the men bowing to her, remaining stoic in her grief until she reaches the forest, what hangs from beneath her furs and in place of her braid, is the tail of a wolf. 

     We usually see the Stark colors under the grey filter of winter. Juxtaposed the black furs and leather with the lightness in this scene emphasizes the darkness surrounding the grieving family.

     Covered in furs and the black of a northern warrior, she comforts Rob as he cries that he will 'kill them all' to avenge his father's death. Cat is a mother wolf - her first priority is her daughters' safety and she reiterates that fact. But her leather gloved hands clench as she strokes Rob's head. We will get you sisters back.

And then we will kill them all.

     Look out Jaime Lannister: Cat's got you prisoner now, she's lost her husband, her kids are in danger, and she wants her daughters back. She's basically wearing an entire wolf around her neck. We wouldn't mess with that, if we were you.