Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Game of Threads: Costume Analysis (S1E2: The Kingsroad)

Saddle up! This is a long one.  I was actually worried if I would find much to say about this episode (since most of the costumes are ones we've seen before) but...I really didn't need to be concerned.  Let's go!

The Dothraki horde in all its single-file glory!  The blue color we saw so much in the wedding isn’t present in their day-to-day costuming: it’s all browns and earth-tones…

Except for Dany, who is wearing a pink dress with a bondage-y neckline; it’s extremely similar to (or the same as, although the rope detail doesn’t look as chunky in this scene) the one she was wearing in Pentos.  At this point in the episode—and we’ll see it start to change later—she still sees herself as a slave.  Jorah’s costume is Westerosi still, but we learn in this scene that he’s at least somewhat familiar with their beliefs and culture too, explaining about the ghost grass.

We can see here just how ill-suited Dany’s Pentos-wear is for Dothraki life, and we get a look at her three attendants and how they’re dressed for a comparison.  It’s not pretty or decorative: it’s there to keep them comfortable while riding.  Dany must chafe like crazy in her impractical dresses.  Her long hair looks impractical: the other women either have it pulled back in ponytails or relatively short (something that we do not see at all in Westeros).  Bottom line: Dany’s having a rough time.

Viserys is refusing to adapt too.  He looks like he’s wearing the same thing he wore at the wedding: it’s got the dragon-scaley collar and we can see a bit of Targaryen sigil detail on the stomach.  Jorah suggests he go back to Illyrio’s house; that’s certainly what he’s dressed for.  Jorah still wears his western clothes too, but he’s not parading around in his Sunday best like Viserys here.  Viserys just does not get the reality of his situation.

Now we go back to Winterfell for a series of interactions between Tyrion and his family.  First we get (ugh) Joffrey.  As much as we hate him, the costuming here is really all about how Joffrey is a Lannister.  He and Tyrion have the same colors going on: dark red leather, gold details.  They probably go to the same tailor.  Joffrey has a prominent lion-face on the pommel of his sword.  The hound is pointedly different: black and silver.

The rest of the Lannisters are inside eating breakfast.  Jaime’s wearing something we’ve seen before: shiny white leather, kimono-neckline, and we also see here that it’s got some pretty fabulous, swishy ruffle details on the sides (which are even more apparent in his later scene with Jon Snow; they’re pretty flouncy in motion).  It’s easily the most flamboyant, attention-pulling costume we’ve seen on a man so far.

Jaime is an interesting character.  On one hand, he’s serving Prince-Charming-from-Shrek realness; on the other, he’s a legitimately great fighter.  The other King’s Landing men cannot shut their traps about their “whores” and “wenches”, and Jaime literally does not care.  As far as we know, he’s only ever been into Cersei.  At this particular point in the series, though, all we really know is that he’s an incest-enthusiast and he pushed a child out of a window.  The frippery in his costuming isn’t endearing: it makes him not-a-Stark, and the Starks are our de-facto heroes, at least at this juncture.

Cersei, even though she’s basically eating breakfast in her pajamas, doesn’t have a hair out of place.  She’s also wrapped in a floral blanket, which is not a pattern we’ve really seen.  Not a lot of florals in the North.

Dig the carved wooden screen behind the table, too.  It’s an unusually curvy, feminine, decorative form in Winterfell, and seems to show animals—I’m getting them as stylized wolves—and they have a Celtic knotwork/Book of Kells look to them.  Wolves hiding in the forest (behind Cersei!) is arguably foreshadowing of the awful, awful events that unfold later in the episode.

The distinct gender separation at the table seems interesting to me too.  Cersei and Myrcella are on one side; Tommen, who could just as plausibly be sitting next to his mother, is on the other with Jaime and Tyrion.  What exactly this is meant to suggest, I’m not entirely sure (though Jaime goes on to talk about “whose side” Tyrion is on later in the scene, that would be a bit on the nose).

Cat is having a rough time.  Her hair is disheveled, she herself points out in her dialog that she’s not really dressed.  I love the watchful dog/wolf statue over by the window.  More foreshadowing of events to come.

Cersei still has her floral blanket, and we can see the rest of her dress.  Now, blue is not a very typical Cersei color (I can think of a few other times where she wears it that we’ll discuss when we get to them) but it most certainly IS a Cat color, especially in combination with green.  This is another scene about Cat and Cersei connecting on a certain level: in the first episode it was as wives, now its as mothers.

This particular scene is one of the big mysteries in Season 1 for me: it is NOT in the books, and the story TV-Cersei tells is at odds with the what Book-Cersei has to say about her children with Robert.  Are her words to Cat supposed to be genuine?  Just play-acting to bring Cat more onto her side in case Bran wakes up (as we just learned from Tyrion that he may)?  I still find this scene to be a little ambiguous, but the extent to which the costuming ties the two women together makes me think it’s authentic.  The show will, later in the season, add another scene never found in the books that makes her relationship with Robert seem a little different and her a little more sympathetic.  I think this scene is of a piece with that.

Last episode, we saw Tyrion and Jon, now we get Jon and Jaime.  First, Jon is waiting for Needle to be completed.  The scene is set up so that Jaime looks HUGE compared to Jon, since this scene is all about the fact that Jon holds some pretty naïve and childish ideas about the Night’s Watch and the fact that he’s never killed anyone.  Jaime basically steps in to school him.

Arya is packing, and Jon steps in to give her her sword and say goodbye.  There’s not much to say about their costumes and how the characters are interacting (Jon’s wearing the same thing as in the previous scene with Jaime) but these shots continue to me do make me think that Arya gets Sansa’s hand-me-downs: it’s visibly too big, even though there’s some rich detailing at the cuffs with fur; it has that knotted decoration around the neckline.  The scene ends with Arya naming her sword Needle—in reference to Sansa’s embroidery ability that we saw in Episode 1—which could be seen as both linking her to and distancing herself from Sansa.

Cat’s still a wreck.  She’s clearly not thinking about or taking care of herself, much less Jon’s feelings, and the coldness that we saw in the first episode comes out here.  Poor Ned is stuck between the two.

Ned’s costuming is only interesting in that it is so plain: there’s not a great deal of difference among the classes at Winterfell.  Compare that with Jaime and his white leather ruffles—Ned and Jaime will argue about display and appearance later in the season.

I like blurry-Ned in the background when Cat tells Jon to leave.  Her dislike of Jon is all about the ghost of what happened the last time Ned left with Robert…

Robb and Jon meet up for West Wing-style walk-and-talk.  They pointedly call each other “Snow” and “Stark”, though they are visibly tied together through their clothing.  Robb’s fur is a little fuller and richer looking, but besides that…

It’s our second mounted horde of the episode!  This one is interesting because we can see that the group is made up of Kingsguard in white at the front, Lannister soldiers in red behind that, and Baratheon troops—who are far less impressive looking—behind that. 

“You may not have my name, but you have my blood,” says Ned.  No kidding: they’re costumed identically to underscore that.

We don’t see much of Benjen in the series, but it seems relevant that he looks so thin and dirty and travel-worn.  This episode deals with Jon’s growing uncertainty and disillusionment with the Night’s Watch (I don't discuss the scene in this analysis because there's not much to say about it from the costume perspective, but later Jon and Tyrion talk about it, and they meet some criminals recently recruited to the Watch).

We learn most of what we need to about Robert’s personality here.  He’s got that plain-leather Northern look underneath, but his cloak is huge and fur-covered, he’s got everyone standing to attention around him so he can take a leak, and just look at that table!

Robert is a man who, while he likes the trapping and perks of kingship, is fundamentally unsuited to it.

Ned looks the same as always.  You can take the Stark out of the North, but…

I’m going to just briefly take a look at Maester Lewin, since the costume is doing some heavy-lifting here to tell us who he is and what Maesters are.  It’s monastic and ecclesiastical: based on that, we can fill in the gaps that he’s like a resident priest and tutor.   Though the material is plain, that is a BIG cowl-neck he’s got and the chain is both simple and showy.  He’s a person of some weight and importance, clearly.

We open on a close shot of Cat’s hand and she works on her…mini-Shrine to the Seven.  The main focus is her ring, which you can see in other shots is a Tully fish (I know it’s difficult to make out, but if you look at her fish pin in other scenes, you can see that it’s the same shape).  She also has that kimono-type closure to her robe, which we’ve only ever seen on Southern people.  Once again, everything Cat wears is just screaming Tully, Tully, Tully at us.  Family, Duty, Honor.

Bran is covered in a fur blanket against which his wolf blends in perfectly.  The line between Bran and the wolves is already getting blurry.

Things are definitely changing in Dany-land!  This is the first time we’ve ever seen her match her surroundings so much.  She still stands out from her handmaidens, but her clothing in color and material is much, much more “Dothraki”.  She’s clearly more comfortable than she was, at least in this particular company.

Cat finally has her game-face back on.  If you’ve ever known someone with depression, you know what a huge, positive step it is when they show up looking washed and really pulled together.  That’s what’s just happened with Cat, who we see in a shot that is almost identical to one she had in the first episode: she’s back in control and back to being the Lady of Winterfell—though of course, she’s still got her Tully fish pin.

But she’s looking REALLY Stark-y and powerful here in the godswood, though, as she explains what she’s learned and lays out what she plans to do about it.  It’s kind of as though she’s put the Stark-style fur on as a way to channel Ned in his absence.

Theon is still there blending in with everyone.  We don’t really know who he IS yet: he’s important enough to get called to this secret meeting, but had to stand back with Jon Snow when the king arrived.  Here, he promises to help Robb if fighting breaks out.

Argh!  I wish I had better shots of this dress, but nearly everything I took from this scene came out too porny to consider using.  The really key thing about it is that it’s VERY Westerosi is cut and Dothraki in it’s tan color. It has the long bell-sleeves we see on women in Westeros, with the same full skirt and kimono-closure.  She’s really taken Doreah’s advice to heart that Khal Drogo doesn’t want “the Dothraki way” and dressed accordingly.  The merging of the two cultures is also noteworthy.

The three brightly-dressed ladies we saw clamber out of Cersei’s wagon in episode 1 are back.  This is going to sound weird, but they remind me of those three blond girls who moon around in the town in Beauty and the Beast.  They’re sitting around, putting their not-very-travel-appropriate hairstyles together.  You can see that their gowns have a fair amount of embroidery on them.  They look a bit ridiculous, but it’s easy to see why Sansa would find them enviable and intimidating.  She looks better than she did in Winterfell: she still has very Northern braids, but her hair’s much smoother, and she doesn’t look nearly as washed out.  There’s some gold embroidery on the…leaves (?) of her neckline detail too.  It’s simple, but it’s definitely “prettier” than what we saw last episode.

Joffrey in red and gold.  Such a Baratheon! :P

Arya’s taken the sleeves off her dress and belted it, turning it into more of a tunic, though she still has that tangled mess around the neck.  You can see in this scene how Arya and Sansa are changing and evolving in opposite directions.  Sansa’s going southern and prettier; Arya’s going tomboy and practicing her swordfighting.

The composition of the shot with the sword across Sansa’s neck is so, so ominous.  Poor Sansa.  Poor Lady…

Ugh, this scene.  You know, it’s the deaths of the characters who aren’t involved that hit me hardest (much more so than some of the big-name deaths), Lady being a case in point.  We can tell immediately how Robert’s going to go in this situation, though: he’s got the coin-shaped gold decorations on his front and along his shoulders.  He’s ultimately with Cersei and the Lannisters in this particular confrontation.

Cersei is wearing her much more typical power colors: red and gold.

This is one case where Sansa and Arya are aligned, in pleading for Lady to be spared.  Sansa was obviously pulled out of bed; Arya and Sansa have matching blue-grey outer layers and white under-layers.  This is one of the few times that Sansa really gets worked up and visibly upset.  She’s much more controlled as time goes on.  Losing her direwolf, of course, has some pretty major symbolic implications for Sansa and her connection to he North.

This episode was such a punch to the gut.  RIP, Lady.

Read the costume analysis for "S1E3: Lord Snow" here.