Mon
May 14 2012 1:30pm

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”

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.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”

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.)

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”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.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”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.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 7, “A Man Without Honor”

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

21 comments
Pritpaul Bains
1. Kickpuncher
Fantastic deviations away from the book this week, IMO.

The events at Quarth in the show just seem so perfectly natural that it's bizarre to think of them *not* happening. There is no way, in a city as rich as Quarth, filled with many rich and powerful people, that not one single person would make an attempt to wrest away the most powerful weapons in the world from an immature little girl. I'm glad it was acted upon and that this is what leads Dany to the House of the Undying.

*****SPOILER ALERT (in white text)*****

My favorite deviation was the second one, though. I love, love, LOVE how instead of making Catelynn's decision re: Jaime seem weak-willed and stereotypically maternal, the show kept her character strong and sharp. It was obvious that by the end of the night, Jaime was going to be killed in his own cage if there was no intervention. Given this, Cat's decision now makes sense as she has to make a judgment right away, and having her determine that she should at least get *something* in return for Jaime (i.e. her daughters) rather than nothing and letting him be killed is a considerably stronger method by which to bring about her decision.

****END SPOILER****

Fantastic work.
Black Dread
2. Black Dread
So did Bran and company just outwalk the horses and hounds? Or did they purposely hide under the Miller's house (knowing that Theon would torture the hell out of the family)? Or did they somehow circle back to Witerfell to hide in the crypts? I guess we find out next week.
Black Dread
3. Black Dread
Now I wonder if Ser Barristan Selmy is going to show up and help Daenerys recover the dragons? In the book he arrives and helps foil an otherwise forgettable assignation attempt. Last night Jamie reminds us again how badass Selmy was/is - "a painter who only used red."
Theresa DeLucci
4. theresa_delucci
bran said they weren't going to go to the Miller's for fear of them geting tortured. Hmm. I mean, Rickon can't be the only person to enjoy walnuts. But, yes, did they outpace the horses and hounds? Did they climb a tree somewhere?
Pritpaul Bains
5. Kickpuncher
They may have lost the hounds at that stream Theon et. al. came up against.
Black Dread
6. sofrina
it can't be the tyrion show. the other actors have to get their shot. i admit the scene in sansa's bedchamber was really disappointing. her hysteria is so heartrending in the book. why couldn't they just play it straight? why is the hound even in her room? she's undressed and unchaperoned. that's just inappropriate.

it was surprising when cersei said that unlike joffrey, robert never enjoyed cruelty. that was exactly the root of her hatred for him in the book. he was cruel to her in bed and he liked it but wouldn't even own up to it when sober. also, her actually admitting there's something wrong with joffrey at all. (!)

i wonder if they plan to have tywin realize who arya is at some point when they are nolonger together.

still enjoy the twinning of robb and john as they both meet girls who tempt them to break their vows.

very nice to finally hear, "you know nothing, john snow."

the whole council scene in qarth was awesome. apparently they mean to keep daenerys. guess they don't know what dragons do best. i don't see why danny should be extra kind to jorah. he is too familiar. just because he's in love with her doesn't mean she owes him anything. he may not be burly, but he is old - even to me - and she's just a kid.
Black Dread
7. mochabean
I really enjoyed the Cat/Jamie confrontation, but I missed Jamie telling Cat the details of what the Mad King did to the Starks. Not because I wanted to hear them, but because it is the first time we learn from Jamie's perspective just how batshit crazy King Aerys was.

@kickpuncher: I was wondering why they changed the timing of the Cat/Jamie conversation, but I'm not as satisfied as you are with the decision. I don't agree that book Cat was "weak-willed" (although I agree her decision was, in part "maternal") (I don't think you are linking those two adjectives in any causal way. Are you? ;-)) -- even though I may not be happy about what she does, it took a great deal of strength to do it. And her circumstances -- nearly crazed by grief at the news about Bran and Rickon -- make her actions in the book more understandable and sympathetic, to me at least.
I recognize that this issue stokes one of the biggest debates in the whole damn series, so perhaps the show decided to make it a bit less complex -- she has to act quickly before the Karstarks go crazy. But, given the parallels between book Cat at this point and Cersei's speech to Sansa (love only your children because you can't help it), I think some richness was lost here.

@Black Dread #2: I wondered the same thing -- plus there is a nice parallel between Bran being unwilling to bring any harm to the miller family with Jamie's use of poor Cleos Frey. And since we don't have the Bastard/Reek to give Theon clever ideas, do we just assume the miller really likes walnuts?
Pritpaul Bains
8. Kickpuncher
@7 mochabean No, no causal correlation intended at all. ;) I just feel the direction the show took with it rang truer to the Cat they've depicted throughout so far than the decision made in the books, in which she completely undermined the effort of one child in order to maybe, possibly have some remote chance (contingent on Jaime not being discovered, surviving the countryside and woods, and the Lannisters actually reciprocating honor with honor) of saving the others who, as far as she knew, may or may not have been in Lannister possession. Perhaps it was a calculated gamble, but not a wise one.
Black Dread
9. Kadere
I loved the episode, especially Jamie. My only complaint would be Jon and Ygritte. I mean, I enjoy watching them together and the witty banter between them this week was great, but I don't understand Jon's character motivations here at all. He's apparently just dragging her all around the North with no destination in mind. Qhorin said they'd meet him at the top of the pass last week, so where is Jon heading and why does it take 3 days to get there? But really what is Jon's plan once he returns to Qhorin with Ygritte? He's just going to walk into camp and be like, "Hey, Qhorin, I know you told me to kill her and that we couldn't have a prisoner along, but I figured you were wrong so I think we should give her some food and keep her as a pet." Is that his brilliant plan? Why didn't he just let her go like he did in the books? All of this was apparently just so he could be kidnapped by Wildlings and thus meet Rattleshirt, which I guess is one way to go, but it's nonsensical. I don't understand what Jon's game plan here was at all.
Black Dread
10. mochabean
@kickpuncher -- agree with you it wasn't a wise move, and and I can see how the change is more consistent with Cat on the show in terms of how she is portrayed. (For example, Cat is not as obviously hostile to Jon Snow in season one when compared to the book).
Chin Bawambi
11. bawambi
Of all the shortcuts/changes they are taking I am potentially not happy with only the Snow changes. I am wondering if Martin in an advisory role is letting some of these things go through so that he doesn't walk into a time trap again. However, with what Jon might go through in the future perhaps we will lose a couple of books in the series so maybe it will work out. I am very happy they are doing this at all so substantial changes to the narrative do not bother me as much as others YMMV.

BawambiofthealsweringenAiel
Pritpaul Bains
12. Kickpuncher
Regarding show/book deviations in general, part of me is extremely curious about exactly how much GRRM is (if at all) enjoying this opportunity to go back into his own material and maybe adjust or tweak storylines in alternate ways that he may have mulled over initially when writing, or wished he had changed in retrospect. I'm sure he's taking this opportunity to play around a bit with that, and I'd be curious to see to what extent. Hope there's a vignette or interview talking about this at some point after or later in the season.
Black Dread
13. AlBrown
The 'new' approaches to the material that this TV show is taking are examples of how you can be truer to the tale itself by letting it take a different course, one more suited to the media at hand. Video is not print, and things that work well in print often don't in video. I think they are doing a great job of that.
I can't express how much I enjoy this show, other than mentioning the fact that every time the credits roll, I ask my wife, "Has it really been an hour already?"
Black Dread
14. Michael F Flynn
In particular, in a visual medium there must be always visual action. Musing and narrative perspective are a n0-go. See the DUNE movie for how this works. A good director can do this by capturing attitudes and expressions, or even poses. Arya's pose when Littlefinger was announced was a good example. However, the most direct way of making something visual is with direct action. Hence the cut-throat treachery of Qarth becomes literally and visually cut-throat in a dramatic set-piece.
Rajan Khanna
15. rajanyk
I enjoyed this episode mostly for Jaime making an appearance, though I was a little taken aback by the killing of his cousin/squire. I guess I'm remembering later Jaime from the books, though. And he hasn't arrived there yet.

I'm happy to see the House of the Undying showing up just because I always liked that scene in the book. Though I agree that Dany is being annoying on the show. I know she's young, but I still expect her to be quieter and more confident than the series version has been so far.

And I think I would watch a whole season of Arya and Tywin. Of course now I'm envisioning The Arya and Tywin show where they talk about things and then by the end of each episode, Arya tries to kill Tywin unsuccessfully.

And I've been waiting for "You know nothing, Jon Snow" ever since they introduced Ygritte. Of course if this is how he joins the Wildlings, will the skip the bit with Halfhand? Doesn't that make Jon's choice different? I guess I'll have to wait and see.
Shelly wb
16. shellywb
I have to say I've been disappointed in this season up until last night's episode. We usually start checking the time about halfway through, especially if it's another gratuitous brothel scene. Last night, however, I was enthralled by them slowing down and letting characters interact. Tywin and Arya, Tyrion and Cersei, Sansa and Cersei, Jaime and Cat, and Jon Snow and Ygritte. The characters were really alive for me and we learned some interesting things about them, and a couple of them learned some things about themselves.

Charles Dance is wonderful. It's a character I didn't care about in the books, but he's made him into such an interesting man. The young woman who plays Arya is great as well. I find myself wishing that Tywin and Arya would join forces and rule the galaxy as father and.... OK, maybe not. But someone should write that fan fic.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
I liked the episode - loved Arya-Tywin, Sansa and everyone, Cersei and everyone, Theon and everyone...and HODOR. The Jaime scenes are wonderfully acted but murdering an innocent, allied family member seems a bit off compared to what I think of as Jaime's personal moral code. I'm concerned about the Jon-Ygritte plot - not because it isn't well acted (Gwen from Downton is absolutely adorable and the script is awesome) but I'm not seeing how they are going to get Jon into the proper place to have him join the wildings and still be able to justify that it wasn't treason to the NW, such as was done in the book. I really hope they don't screw it up and they need more Jon-Qhorin interaction to make it work. I've also not been a fan of the Dany plot line so far (too much petulant "Fire and Blood" whining) but the radical departure in the last ep and the effectively creepy PP could actually make this all work out in the end.

And we need to get back to Stannis/Davos/Mel stat to make that plot line work.

Rob
Black Dread
18. Nameless One
I really enjoyed this episode. Mostly the interaction between Arya and Tywin. Definitely one of the best deviations from the books was putting these two together. But be careful Arya...I worry that Tywin might start to get suspicious...

"You know nothing Jon Snow." When it was finally said I actually blurted an audible cheer. (Which also got me a confused look from my husband who has never read the books.) However, I do have to agree with @17 that I'm equally disturbed by HBO's decision on the chain of events here.

**spoiler in white** The only thing I can think of is that maybe Jon will meet up with Qhorin again as captives of the wildlings. With both of them being reunited perhaps Qhorin still has an oppotunity to give him those crucial orders... (I really liked it in the book when he asked if he kept his blade sharp. Great set-up for later.) Ygritte has given Jon many reasons as to why his vows are so nonsensical but with the added history lesson it seems believable if Jon wants to "switch sides". So maybe this is how it comes to be that he is asked to excute the Halfhand in order to prove his new allegiance? This twist would restore the Jon Snow storyline so there is no conflict later about it being treason... just a thought.
**end spoiler**

Dany.. I loved you in season one. I saw a character that went from an unsure player in her brothers (ultimately failed) quest to a confident khaleesi and then onto become Mother of Dragons through fire and blood (literally). Talk about kick-ass! Season two Dany...ugh.. It feels like the Red Waste has dried up all the growth she had gained through her previous trials. Indeed she has become quite unsure of herself and thus the petulant, whiney princess that we all cringe to see. Which is why I was glad for this episode since it probably gave her head a good shake... (And maybe recall Xaro's advice that you can't always play by the rules to get ahead) Dany will now maybe realize that it might be a good idea to start making some allies...but first, off to the House of the Undying!

Jaime. Wow. Even my husband said, "I was almost feeling sorry for him until--wham!" Great dialogue and scenes here. Also, I agree that Jaime's imminant danger is a much greater motivation for a level-headed Cat Stark who decides to take action...

As for the rest of the episode...I liked it all. The awkward moment where Tyrion wants to comfort his sister is priceless. Both actors captured the emotion of that very well. Sansa and the Hound finally get some screen time although the scene where he ends up in her room seems a bit unnecessary and confusing since we're left wondering whether it was him or the threatened handmaiden that told Cersei. But then didn't he just finish telling her that he would be the only one that would stand between her and Joff's sadistic rage? so why tell the Queen? Am I just confused? bah... Guess we'll see how this plays out.

Can't wait for next week but with only 3 episodes left I wonder if Tyrion is going to get much screentime. Afterall, war is coming to King's Landing!
Black Dread
19. Black Dread
"You know nothing Jon Snow."

I was waiting for it too. I'm sure they made us wait till the end as a tease.
Black Dread
20. villain
Ive made a little Extra Emotional Engagement review of ep Six and Seven. The usual reviews are on the forums.

Im quite sure youll be most emotionall engaged.

its just one click away... and it doesnt have teeth:

http://imgur.com/a/bFeKt#0
Claire de Trafford
21. ClairedeT
I also enjoyed the rationalizing of Caitlyn's decision - to me, like you, it made her a stronger character. Not so convinced about the Theon/Winterfell story line - it's a bit too truncated, also, sorry miller's boys. Last week I was all 'what have you done to Dany?' - this week it was excellent. Fair play for having a strop and the comment above was correct - Jorah is good looking but an old guy, Dany doesn't owe him her favour just because he likes her. I really hope that we see more of the House of the Undying although it seems likely that the best scenes, Dany's visions, will probably be cut as we haven't seen any real hint of the Rhaegar/Lyanna storyline in the series.

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