This week on Game of Thrones, a bunch of twenty-something, rich, awkward, white chicks talked a whole lot. Wow, HBO really wants people to watch Girls. The commercials before Game of Thrones seemed to take forever.
In the world of Westeros, which seems more real to me than a Manhattan full of trust fund babies, Catelyn reaches out to Renly and his clever new wife, Tyrion sets a trap in Kings Landing, Jon learns a tough lesson, and the Kingsroad is stained with more blood.
Warning: book and episode spoilers after the cut. If you wish to avoid spoilers, I refer you to Leigh Butler’s excellent ASoIaF read.
Right off the bat, we see that Jon’s spying on Craster didn’t cost the Night’s Watch much aside from some more time at the creepiest keep beyond the Wall. Unlike Sam, I’m glad to leave Craster’s behind.
I loved Bran’s scene with Maester Luwin. The child actors on this show are just nailing their performances. And so are the adults. I liked Luwin in the books, but he’s just so much more vivid when you actually watch him advise and teach Bran. “Maybe magic was once a mighty force, but now it’s gone.” I’m gonna side with Osha on the existence of magic. Bran’s dreams are handled nicely.
In Renly’s camp, the knights of summer play games. I loved Brienne’s armor. And just... wow, she is crazy tall. I don’t think she’s as homely as she was described in the books. No one on this show is. Tyrion is downright handsome. But Brienne’s intimidating and seems deadly serious. I always imagined her being more awkward when she’s not swinging a sword, especially around Renly. I didn’t think Cat looks shocked enough to see a female knight.
But I loved Catelyn assessing the situation with Renly and his followers. That situation got awfully tense. “My son is fighting a war. Not playing at one.” Burn! What to make of The Tudors’ Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell? She’s definitely looking ready to get her hands dirty with something. My friend described Dormer as “Plotty McPlot-face” and it’s true. Margaery is very smart. I loved her bedroom antics with Renly. She’s keeping her priorities straight and not letting her feathers get ruffled by something as little as a difference in sexual orientation. She’s progressive and her dresses are very couture. I like her.
Theon is a lot more emotional on the show. I didn’t remember an outburst like that, but I actually felt bad for him. It made Theon’s decision to betray Robb carry more emotional weight. His scene staring at that letter and his subsequent baptism were beautifully staged. I actually had hoped, for a brief second, that Theon would do the right thing and call his new plan off.
I wasn’t feeling the scene with Sansa and Shae. I want to have sympathy for Sansa because she’s in a terrible situation. But get real. Hasn’t she seen enough to know that the world of “ladies” is only an illusion of grace? Maybe dressing down the help makes her feel powerful in some small way, but perhaps Sansa should go leave for Lena Dunham’s show instead of George R. R. Martin’s.
George R. R. Martin’s world is hard on children, as we get to see another one die horribly at episode’s end. Harder to take was watching Yoren get Boromir’d to death right after his new scene with Arya. It was my favorite of the night. That bedtime story wasn’t in the books, but it served a great purpose. Now, when Arya recites her own vengeful prayers at night, it will call back to the lesson she learned from Yoren. It elevated Yoren to something of a mentor for Arya, an anti-Syrio Florel. Watch out, Raff. Or was that Polliver?
Where’s Gregor Clegane these days, if we’ve already skipped to meeting Amory Lorch? I want to see the new actor. I wonder if he’s taller than Brienne.
Tyrion’s trap to catch his sister’s spy was laid out well. And it was good to get the payoff sooner, rather than several chapters later. Bronn is gold in any scene, but especially when he’s cutting off an old man’s beard. Tyrion is great at exiling people. Wish he’d work his way up to Joffrey. One gets the sense that Pycelle was just the stupidest of the three council members. Littlefinger is the most dangerous, but Varys is the most mysterious. “Power resides where men believes it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small men can cast a very large shadow.”
Shadows? You don’t say. Watch the preview for next week’s episode and Varys’ words become a bit more portentous, don’t you agree?
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