Saturday, August 9, 2014

Game of Threads: Costume Analysis (S1E10: Fire and Blood)

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo~~!  Episode 10, y'all!  Only...30 more episodes to go (as of time of writing).

Let's see what the final hour of Season 1 gives us.

(I'm going to actually skip the very first scene, since it's all a continuation of the Ned execution sequence from the end of the previous episode, and everyone's all wearing the same stuff.)

So here we are in Winterfell with Bran and co.  Bran's gone back to his "signature" buckled-on sleeves.  They weren't there in his last scene with Robb, logically because he was in bed, and thematically to represent his powerlessness in that situation.  Here, he's much more assertive and, interesting, has taken a leaf out of Tyrion's book, "I'm a crippled boy, and I'm not afraid."

Colorwise, like all Starks he blends in with his surroundings, but you can see in the third picture that he's wearing his mother's Tully fish pin at the throat.

Down in the crypts they meet/get threatened by Shaggydog and Rickon, who looks totally filthy and neglected.  Bran looks like a wealthy Northerner.  Rickon is covered in dirt.  Poor kid.

Osha's "person"-ification is continuing.  Relative to how she looked in her introduction, she's practically clean-cut here.  Is it just me, or does she have a bunch of white eyeliner on her waterline?  It's probably there to balance out all the "dirt" effect around her eyes, so that her eyes don't look too small, but that in itself tells you a bit about how they want the character to look: white eyeliner is used to make eyes look bigger, which usually translates as "cute" or "pretty" and thus often as "good". Compare it with Shae--the show's resident dark eyeshadow queen--who doesn't get the embiggening white eyeliner. 

Anyway, it's not an effect that you would expect them to put on a character like Osha, but her costume is definitely working to tell us something about the character.  It's subtle for sure--unless you pause the video to look at what kind of makeup she's wearing, the effect will work more or less subconsciously, but it's there.

Luwin I included here mainly because I like the character, but also because we'll getting to know another Maester in more detail later, and I wanted to have Luwin available for contrast.  Note how well his pale-grey robes match the Winterfell stones behind him.

Here's poor old Cat holding her shit together until she can get outside of the camp to cry.  As she has for the past few episodes--and especially since she met up with Robb's army--she's looking very, very Stark-y.  It's almost political, really.

What I find most interesting about that picture of her in the camp, though, is the fact that we get to see some Northern army mooks milling about, which allows us to contrast the way they run things versus how the Lannisters do.  You can see: that armor that the extras are wearing is the same as what Ned wore.  Tywin sets himself apart very clearly, not only from the general soldiery, but even from his close advisors.  Look at Robb: that's the same armor too, just with some plain, plate additions.  I've said before that Tywin's costumes serve to highlight his wealth and the fact that he "plays the game".  I'd say the Northerners here show that they aren't really playing, at least not at the same level that Tywin is.  They are also probably less well-off.

I can't help noticing that, while Robb's armor is simple, it is also kind of pristine.

The Northern army's fine and all, but we all know that King's Landing is where it's at for our purposes, so let's see what we've got to work with.

First two things I noticed about Sansa: that's a new dress and, more importantly, her Lannister pendant is gone.  She's gone back to the dragonfly that she wore in earlier episodes (first in episode two), and is a pre-King's Landing piece.  I speculated in the last episode that we might have seen the last of the Lannister necklace--it was a gift from Joffrey after all--so I'm feeling kind of vindicated now.

Let's talk dress.  This pink color is new for Sansa, though it's definitely in her King's Landing wheelhouse.  She wears soft, pastel colors: light blue/grey in Winterfell, pale lavender, soft turquoise, and now this pink.  Two things stand out to me about this color though: it's one that Cersei favors (Cersei likes those metal obi-belts too), and it's serving to make Sansa look pretty bad here, since it pulls out all the red in around her eyes and nose.  That makes it all the more psychopathic when Joffrey tells her she looks "nice".  I guess "nice = distraught" in his twisted little mind.

I originally thought that this pink dress was basically undecorated--there's no obvious embroidery on the shoulder like there usually is with this style of dress--but you can see that there is some detailing on the back.  You can also see just how laquered and contained her hair eyes.

Cersei's continuing to wear that Lannister explosion of a dress in court.  I think it's safe to say that she's feeling pretty secure here and really flying her true colors.  The teeny little Baratheon crown is really just funny at this point.

And here's Joffrey doing the same thing.  Red and gold all over the place, with lions on the sleeves.  It's kind of interesting to compare with Cat, who's also been looking extremely Northern recently...  Obviously, Cat can't call back to Robb's costumes to nearly the extent that Cersei is here with Joff because Robb is mainly wearing armor, but we've had scenes of them standing together in matching cloaks and so on.  Anyway, the comparison of the two mothers dressing to match their eldest sons is kind of interesting (and remember, Lysa does this too).  If nothing else, I think it's showing that that bond is important in the GoT world.

Uuuuuuugh, these scenes that take place in more or less total darkness are the bane of this project!  Thank god these are all Northerners who are almost never doing anything particularly interesting with their costumes.  They establish their look, and then rarely deviate from it.

That being said, those silhouette figures hovering behind Cat and Robb are insanely ominous looking.  This is when the whole "King in the North" business starts.  There's nothing about the way the scene is set up to suggest it's going to end well...

And usually, the Northerners are all looking pretty distinct in this scene.  Look:

Lots of different types of armor on view here.  I think this reflects the lack of agreement at the beginning of the scene: they are debating whether to join Renly or Stannis, until Greatjon nominates Robb as King in the North.  The mish-mash of costumes is a slightly worrying detail in this scene that shoud be full of optimism.  A disjointed Northern army can't win.

Ol' fish scale armor really surprised me.  I spent a while trying to figure out who he's supposed to be, but I can't make out his sigil clearly enough.  It's definitely possible that there could be Riverlanders in Robb's army at this point: Jaime's army was sent to lay seige to Riverrun, and he's been captured.  Maybe a sharper-eyed reader can figure out what's going on with his sigil.

EDIT: One of the readers here--thanks, capitalSeven!--solved the mystery in the comments: that's Jonos Bracken.  As I speculated above, he is one of the riverlords who joined after Robb after the Battle of the Whispering Wood (when Jaime was captured).  As such, the fish-scales make a great deal of sense, and the decision is clearly deliberate.  It's a great illustration of costumes telling us more than just what we are told: we know that Robb's army is growing, but also becoming more diverse and thus potentially more fractured.  It's a big change from the "Wall of Northern Solidarity" looks we saw in previous episodes.

Anothercompletelydarkscene.  Jaime's looking haggard, I can tell you that much, and you can see that he's wearing one of those leather coat-things he typically wears when he's not in armor.  He maintains his characteristic swagger in this scene, too, so that costume carry-over makes sense.  The openness of the collar reflects the openness with which he confesses to pushing Bran out of the window...though he doesn't say why.

Here's an incredibly brief scene with Cersei, whom nevertheless gets a totally new dress.  It's barely on screen at all.  The dark green is a beautiful color, but it's pretty far removed from what we saw Cersei wearing last.  I would perhaps argue that red (including pink) and gold are Cersei's "power colors", and that colors on the opposite side of the color wheel (greens and blues) tend to show a certain emotional vulnerability.  We've seen this with her turquoise embroidered dress (she speaks to Joff honestly and openly) and the greenish dress she wore in Winterfell, talking about the son that died.

The letter she's reading in this scene is presumably carrying the news of Jaime's capture, so "emotional vulnerability" is pretty much the name of the game.

We also find out she's using Lancel to fill the Jaime-void, so to speak.  Gross.

Checking in with Tywin, who is also rather emotional about the recent development.  He is, furthermore, deviating from his usual habits and wearing his armor outside of an actual battle.  We know that Tywin values the family name above everything else, and what's upsetting him in this scene is that the Starks "have my son!"  So being coated from head to toe in Lannister lions ties in with that.

It looks like the black leather layer that we usually see Tywin wearing in this tent scenes might be what he wears under his armor.  This would actually make him somewhat Jaime-like: the flamboyant leather coats that Jaime wears are actually the underlayers for his Kingsguard and Lannister armor.

Tyrion looks just the same as he always does.

The Dothraki camp is much emptier than when we saw it last, so we know things haven't gone well.

Dany wakes up in her tent, still in her clothes from before (um, yuck? her clothes should be a total wreck from a strictly logical perspective), including the dragon-scale shirt.  It's kind of interesting that Jorah hasn't taken his armor off either--it's got to be hot--I suppose because he wants to be standing by to protect Dany, even though it doesn't look like there's much of anyone around to threaten her at this point.

And then we've got Mirri Maz Duur, looking smaller and more normal than we've ever seen her.  I spent a while trying to figure out why that is, because her costume hasn't changed.  All the same pieces are in place, but she's gone from looking kind of nutty and impressive to, like, a Mediterranean grandma.  Just a woman.  I think the only thing they did was pull her hair back.

I've got one thought about why that is:

Overall, Mirri is presented in a pretty positive light in this scene.  She's shown facing off against Dany, and as she explains why she did it--revenge for her village and, it seems, to prevent the Stallion Who Mounts the World from just massacring Essos--the camera is angled so that we're looking up at her.  If she still looked like a crazy blood-magician, the effect would be rather different, but she comes of as almost reasonable here.

Tyrion and Shae are packing up to head to King's Landing, looking basically the same as when they first met.  Shae's got her smokey eyes and ill-fitting dress, Tyrion in his Lannister-wear.

And we follow that up with a scene that contains two of my least favorite elements: near-complete darkness and the Night's Watch.  Notice how well Sam, Pyp, and Grenn match.  They recite their Night's Watch vows as a way of getting Jon to come back with them, so of course they look like unified members of the Watch.

This scene was so sad to rewatch...  Anyway, Dany's not wearing anything particularly new (though she is looking rough), but the pillow she uses to kill Drogo stuck out at me.  That's a pretty....Westerosi design.  It's even, I believe, a botanical print, which seems to have some associations with betrayal or deceit.  Anyway, it stuck me as odd.

See, I can't resist doorways and windows being used for framing.  It's very Vermeer. There actually is more Dutch influence than you'd think in the way the show, especially the King's Landing scenes, are shot.  The piles of fruit that we often see in these scenes look like Dutch still lifes, and the dark, rich colors are similar.

This style of dress on Ros isn't one that we've seen in great detail before.  It's sack-y and drape-y with a pretty big amount of back exposed, and tied around the neck very simply.  In some ways, it looks similar to the dress Dany wore the first time we saw her, back in Episode 1.  Ros also has some visible botanical embroidery down the center of the dress; this makes total sense, since we know she is both working for Littlefinger in general, and likely actively trying to "spy" on Pycelle in this scene.  Deceit all over the place.

I like the fact that her hair is a sort of rough approximation of the basic Southern style, though it's curlier than we've ever seen any of the court ladies wear it, and the rope braids over her shoulders are so chunky and uneven.  It's just a detail that seems very "true" to me: that prostitutes would be copying the aristocratic styles, but without the aid of servants, they come out looking sort

Pycelle's doing some deceiving of his own, though, and this scene seems to indicate that his whole persona might be an act.  As he goes hobbling out the door, the whole space to the side of him is filled with plants.  Lies everywhere!

His dialog is actually pretty interesting in this scene, since the show doesn't give out nearly so many details about past events as the books do.  It's odd, for example, to hear Aerys the Mad described as "a charmer" who lost his mind gradually. 

Might as well check in with the other members of the small council.  The show really is, I feel, setting Varys and Littlefinger up as oppositional forces, at least symbolically.  Even their discussion sets the up as opposites: Littlefinger wants the throne, and dreams of seeing his enemies headless; Varys "is one of the few men in this city who does not want to be King".  Littlefinger responds in his charming way by sniping at Varys' castration.

Anyway, Littlefinger isn't deviating from his established pattern at all: this is the "florals of deception" underlayer (you can see it catching the light on his sleeve) with the stripey overcoat we know and love.  Varys is wearing something that's also pretty much in his wheelhouse: the light green color is typical, though without the print.  Oppositional forces.

"Arry" with her new haircut.  What I think is kind of important here is: these are still "Arya"'s clothes: that shirt is one that she wore frequently under her dresses, and she was already wearing those pants when she was living in the Keep.  Compare that with Sansa, who has almost completely changed her wardrobe from earlier episodes (though she's gone back to her dragonfly necklace).  Arya is in "disguise" but she's still herself; Sansa is still Lady Sansa at court, but she's nearly unrecognizable from when the show started.

Arya heads out with the other new recruits for the Night's Watch.  There wasn't much to say about Lommy or Hot Pie: their dressed in generic, peasant brown and look pretty grimy, even compared to Arya.  Gendry's there too, and he's got the bull helmet: it helps remind the audience who he is, but also tells us something about him, that he's bother to take it with him.  He said when we first met him that he made that helmet for himself, that it wasn't for sale.  Like Arya, he's carrying a link to his past life. 

...You know how I feel about the Night's Watch.  Jon Snow just does not look like the rest of the crows.  They're so haggard and worn: look at that kid to the left of Mormont.  And then there's Jon in his bright grey fur, with his brand-new sword, all clean and coiffed.  Yeah, he's technically "the hero" of the story, which may account for the glamor shots he gets, but for me it just visually sets him apart.  He's still Lord Snow of Winterfell, and he doesn't know what he's getting into.

We end the season with Dany here, scrubbed up since we last saw her, in a dress that is at least highly reminiscent of her wedding dress from the first episode.  I really studied pictures to see if it's the same garment, and I think it is.  Let's look at the evidence:

The overall shape is obviously the same, with the dragon brooch holding it together.  In the wedding scene, it has extra billows, but those are attached to the armbands, which she's removed for the pyre scene (possibly because they had a sort of slave-y look to them initially).  What made me think it might not be the same dress is the color: sometimes it looks much more blue than it did when we saw it originally.  In the following screencaps, though, it seems to be the same light purple color:

So the occasional blue color is, I think, has two possible reasons: the lighting change (from daytime to nighttime) or a deliberate edit.  Both could be intentional.  This is sort of cheating, as I try not to reference future episodes in these posts, but think of it as a preview for upcoming seasons: we're going to see blue become an extremely important color for women, particularly women with power.

Obviously, the hair is the other big change.  It's very soft at her wedding, in what's often referred to as a Mediaeval hair veil.  Here, it's in quite fierce-looking (and kind of similar in appearance to dragon scale) dutch braids.  There's definitely a power-shift that's happened since the first time we saw the dress.

Anyway, it a piece of costuming that's obviously loaded with meaning for the character...

And it all gets burned up.  It's gone, by the end of the episode.  She's sacrificed the life she had with Drogo, as a Khaleesi, to get her dragons.  In a sense, she's had to burn away what went before in her life (because remember, that purple wedding dress is similar to the purple dresses she wore in Pentos before her marriage) to become a Targaryen.

The only thing I was bummed about in this scene is: her hair didn't all burn off like it was supposed to in the books.  Again, this is probably a "don't make the hero look bad" situation (as well as making it easier on the costumers--coordinating her wigs to have the hair growing back in consistently would have taken a lot of effort), but I always thought it was a cool symbol of rebirth: after all, long hair like Dany's would take years and years to grow; it's the same hair that's been with her through everything we've seen so far.  Symbolically, I think it would have been awesome to have it all burned away and then gradually regrow out to fully Targaryen hair.  Oh well.  I guess I can be content with the dragons.


Well, I guess that wraps up Season 1!  I hope it was interesting or maybe gave you a new perspective on how the story is being told visually in the show.  See you for Season 2! ---Hamfan

Click here to read the costume analysis for "S2E1: The North Remembers"