This week’s episode of Game of Thrones gets a much more appropriate title than last week’s. We see a lot of contrast between those who have honor, those who fight to preserve it, and those who have forsaken it. The last kind of man is of course the most interesting because it means we finally get to check in on Jaime Lannister, still held captive by Robb Stark.
Women also get to discuss duty this week, from the wildling woman Ygritte to Cersei giving Sansa a lesson on what it means to be a woman. And, appropriately enough for Mother’s Day, Cat Stark yelled her head off to calm some tensions on her son’s behalf.
Warning: Episode reviews contain episode and book spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, follow Leigh Butler’s read of ASOIaF. Tor.com is not liable for your further enjoyment of the series if later books get spoiled in the comments.
This week’s episode was another winner, a great hour of storytelling with a tightly-controlled theme.
Who is a man with honor? Jon Snow is stronger than most crows, who, as we don’t see on the TV show, go digging for buried treasure in Moletown. (The treasure being prostitutes.) He’s a real Stark, all right. Ygritte’s goading was hilarious and Kit Harrington did a great job of looking supremely uncomfortable. This pair is really great with the cute and cutting banter, but I’m definitely excited to meet more wildlings next week and get a glimpse into their society.
Over in the grimly gorgeous Harrenhal, Gregor Clegane is given leave to bring down the Brotherhood Without Banners by any means necessary. In Martin’s world, this means pillaging, murdering, and raping the smallfolk. I love, love, love Arya’s conversations with Tywin. Charles Dance is killing it as the old lion, sharing his memories and lessons on leadership with his clever little cupbearer. He does horrible things, cruel and calculating things, but he has a kind of severe sense of justice that his mostly disappointing children don’t share. And in his advanced ages, he’s showing chinks in that red and gold armor.
Will Arya give Jaqen Tywin’s name at the last? I’ve read the books, but the tension building in these scenes still make me unsure. And I love that, too.
And I love Arya’s little quips. “Most girls are idiots.”
Cut to Sansa.
(Okay, it didn’t happen quite that quickly, but in my head it did and I giggled.)
Unlike her sister, Sansa hasn’t had anyone to really talk with. She must keep up her front at all times. Can you imagine having to have The Talk with the mother of the man who beheaded your dad? And “The more people you love, the weaker you are?” Way to be a downer, Cersei. She mentions her children, but you just know Jaime is her biggest weakness. The Hound, Sansa discovers, defines honor differently than most. At least he seems to enjoy his job.
Dany is kind of annoying the hell out of me this season. She definitely enjoys pulling the khaleesi card. As she talked down to Jorah, I reached the end of my patience with her pity parties. Yeah, we get it. Her life up until this point has largely sucked and not been her own. But the Spice King has a point. She likes to threaten and demand, but offers nothing tangible in return. It’s obvious Jorah is in love with her and she treats him with less kindness than her handmaidens. Additionally, Dany’s coolness towards Jorah would be more believable if he looked more like the bear he was described as in the books than, you know, a really classically handsome older actor.
Luckily for her storyline, everything else about Qarth is made of pure win. So long, Spice King and the rest of the Thirteen. Pyat Pree is so damned creepy. And we got a taste of the ruthless cunning beneath Xaro’s friendly exterior. Can’t wait to get to the House of the Undying. I enjoy this change from the books because Dany going to retrieve her dragons is a powerful motivator for what she must make herself get though next.
The real star of the night, the real man without honor, is Jaime Lannister. He’s easily one of my favorite characters from the books. We’ve watched him do horrible things, he even did something horrible last night by killing his young cousin. The Kingslayer is misunderstood and hated by most people. But it’s for the wrong reasons. As he told Cat, by keeping one vow, you ruin another. Jaime broke his vow to protect the king, but Aerys was the Mad King. Jaime watched him burn Ned Stark’s brother and father and soon the pyromaniac Targaryen was going to burn down King’s Landing. He needed to die.
Really interesting taunts from Jaime, bringing up Ned’s bastard. He knows how to push buttons as much as his younger brother does. Jaime has honor, it’s just warped. It’s important that his former squire worshipped Jaime. Jaime Lannister seems to hate himself underneath all of that show of pride and part of him wants to take his beating while another wants to be free.
In other news, Theon goes from being a gigantic dick to a colossal dick. To call him a man is too generous. Just look at the faces he makes. In the books, I was more worried about the fates of Bran and Rickon, but here, I think the audience knows what’s up. Now if only someone would tell poor Maester Luwin. If I were him, I’d make like Jaime and strangle Theon with my chain.
A few complaints in an otherwise strong episode: where’s Tyrion? I know this is following the books, but on TV I want to see the great actors more often. And Peter Dinklage is great. Perhaps they’re just holding him back a bit so we can really see him shine in “Blackwater.” But it’s been too long since Tyrion, Varys, and Littlefinger had scenes together.
Stannis and his fleet are five days out from King’s Landing and we’re only three episodes from the very end of season two, people. Can you believe it?
Game of Thrones airs 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci