Another Sunday, another episode of Game of Thrones, where there’s always a surprise–even if you’ve read the books. There’s chaos, betrayals, coups and a general sense of discord throughout Westeros and beyond. With just
two three more episodes left, and quite a bit to fill it with, the writers at HBO seem to be setting us up for some fast-paced happenings in the coming weeks. Buckle up, and watch for spoilers.
Beyond The Wall, Ygritte continues to play suggestive games about sheep, masturbation and all sorts of things, with a sexually repressed Jon, that makes you wonder just who has who captive here. After a lot of dirty talk, she manages to escape only to lead Jon right into a band of Wildlings. A set of events that deviates from the book, but has a nice set up. Bring on Mr. Rattleshirt, and maybe a giant or two. Ohhhh, I’ve said too much.
Over at Harrenhal, after Lord Tywin mistakes one of Arya’s assassin wishes for an attempt on his own life, he starts hanging soldiers en masse. The Lannister early retirement plan is almost as bad as in The Empire. Suspecting The Brotherhood without Banners, Tywin sends out “The Mountain That Rides” to rape, pillage, burn and generally terrorize the local smallfolk into giving the rebel band up. I expect by season three of this series then, we’ll be able to see a fat, drunken Red Priest with a flaming sword. Tywin and Arya continue their odd “frenemy-ship,” with the older lord showing he is perceptive (noting that Arya is no commoner as she claims), yet obviously not perceptive enough to know who he really has in his possession. Time will tell if he gets his Keyser Söze revelation moment. We do get some well-done exposition to give us the history of Harrenhal, and its demise at the hands of the Targaryen dragons. There was no Jaqen H’ghar in this episode, but given the events to come (unless the writers at HBO completely change them as well), he’ll be critically needed for that third wish.
In King’s Landing, Sansa continues to suffer flashbacks of her attack. She gives her gratitude to The Hound, apologizing for not thanking him sooner. In typical fashion, he’s a dick about it. He’s Sandor. It’s what he does. Awaking from her flashback dream, Sansa finds to her horror that she’s had her first moon’s blood–something she desperately wants to hide from the queen, lest she’s forced to have any of Joffrey the Monster’s babies. Tyrion’s girlfriend-concubine-turned-hand-maiden, Shae, attempts to help Sansa conceal the evidence, going as far as to pull a knife on another servant who is just a bit too happy to report these happenings to the queen. But when The Hound walks in, the “jig is up” and Sansa’s secret is revealed. This leads to an almost motherly moment between Sansa and Cersei, as the queen gives her guidance on the meaning of wifedom and motherhood. In a second scene that almost comes to “touching,” Cersei and Tyrion share a moment as she all-but-outright-confesses her incestuous relationship with Jamie and wonders if Joffrey the Monster is punishment. It ends rather…awkward.
In the city of Qarth, Dany continues to fret over the loss of her dragons, accusing Xaro of being involved in the threat. He denies this with Shakespearean skill. Turns out later though–he was. In a deft coup, he and sorcerer Pyrat Pree execute the other leaders of Qarth and Xaro proclaims himself king of the city. I know! Catch your breath! Dany is left to mostly stand around watching with the same dumbfounded expression the rest of us are, as Pree then pleads–insists–she come to The House of the Undying to see her dragons. Dany’s storyline continues to deviate from the book, likely to enhance the big showdown with the sorcerers. I really did like this scene, and the offing of the remaining members of the Thirteen was completely unexpected–though I’m still murky on why stealing Dany’s dragons was required (?). It certainly places Xaro Xhoan Daxos in a new light, and with new power. Too bad at the same time, it denies Dany any real voice, stripping away a much-needed sense of agency from one of the book’s central female characters.
Meanwhile in Robb Stark land … Robb Stark and Telisa-maybe-I’m-Jeyne-Westerilng banter, awkwardly flirt and ride off to get medical supplies. More interesting however, is what’s going on with our favorite Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister–who I’d almost forgotten about. Locked in the pens, he has an interesting talk with his distant poorer cousin, Alton Lannister–and then brutally kills him in order to make an escape attempt. This is less-than-successful as he’s eventually caught and dragged back. Much of the camp now wants him dead, especially the head of the Karstark clan whose son Jaime also killed in his short-lived escape. He’s only saved by the intervention of Catelyn Stark, but the camp is left in division that doesn’t bode well for the absentee King of the North whose gone off riding with Florence Nightengale. That night, Catelyn goes to talk to Jaime, and he cruelly taunts her about Ned Stark. She asks Brienne for her sword, who hands it over, and we’re left breathless to see what happens next. This was all very interesting, though I’m not sure why it was necessary to turn the already saddled-with-disgrace Kingslayer with the equally dishonorable title of Kinslayer, and off poor Alton that way. I get it. Jaime is a piece of work. The HBO writers obviously feel the need to hype up this angle, likely to make what’s coming next seem even more surprising. Still, some of these changes reek of overkill.
Lastly, over at Winterfell, Theon is still in charge–sort of. He’s done lost Bran and Rickon and is blaming everyone in sight but himself. Meanwhile the two Stark boys, Osha, Hodor and the dire wolves are trying to find a place to flee and dropping those walnuts everywhere, which the hunting party is able to follow (finally, a reason for Rickon’s annoying table habits about two episodes back). Theon goes full tilt over to the dark side, despite Maester Luwin’s urgings, in his desire to show who’s in control. And in a final *gasp* scene, brings out all of Winterfell to witness what happens to those who defy him–hoisting up the blackened tarred corpses of two small boys, who are supposed to be Bran and Rickon. Or are they…?
Stay tuned true believers for the last two episodes of the season, wherein Robb is likely to do something very stupid in the name of love.