For an episode called “Walk of Punishment,” we thankfully got a lot less walking on last night’s Game of Thrones compared to “Dark Wings, Dark Words.” Guess they couldn’t make the whole hour about Rast having to keep Samwell alive on the march to Craster’s Keep. All of the players are starting to move around the board and it was really exciting. And tense. And funny. And mysterious.
And then... things took A Turn, as they often do in Westeros.
Please be aware that while I try to avoid book spoilers in the main post, the comments may contain spoilers for all books. The comments may also devolve into cries of MOAR PEEN, HBO. (I felt so uncomfortably accomplished about that last week.)
It’s Six Feet Under: Riverrun edition as we get our first look at the Tully clan in mourning for the late Lord Hoster at an awkward funeral service. It was an apt introduction for Cat’s brother Edmure, who we soon learn is a walking disaster and an embarrassment to the family name. Beware the men who go into war for glory, for they are really, really foolish. Older and wiser is Cat’s uncle Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, a fan favorite from the books. I don’t know if he’ll become such on the show, since we didn’t really get much backstory on him, due largely to Cat taking up most of his screentime with another heartwrenching monologue. Yes, Cat loves her family to a fault and she makes terrible decisions because of that, but let’s allow her some sympathy. She really thinks she’s lost everything. I’m disappointed that we never got to meet Hoster—and the secrets he kept—too, but, there’s just no time to waste in a TV show.
I’m happy to sacrifice some details from the books because it gives us time to enjoy new, smaller asides, like Talisa taunting the worthless Lannister hostages or Tyrion explaining finances to Bronn. Or the hilariously uncomfortable meeting of the new Small Council. We also get to enjoy entirely new asides like... whatever the Seven Hells is going on with Theon. When those men started hunting him, I thought it was going to be something from the books. Something really nasty from the books. Then the “Boy” rescued him after all. (Lucky for Theon that he’s not related to Edmure.) Or did he? That dying knight did call him “a little bastard.” But is Yara really not in this season at all?
Costs versus gains seemed to be tonight’s theme. You can’t sit on the Iron Throne without getting blood on your hands. Kudos to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for the direction this week, especially in Astapor. Dany walking with Jorah over one shoulder and Barristan Selmy over the other, like her arguing Good Angel and Bad Angel. Rhaegar, we’re reminded, was loved by those who served him, their loyalty wasn’t bought at a market. Jorah so helpfully points out that Rhaegar fought nobly and died. Dany can have both, we’ve seen her capabilities.
“All men must
serve die. But we are not men,” she tells her new handmaid Missandei. She’s not just any woman, either, she’s the Mother of Dragons. She was completely right to dress her advisors down for arguing with her in front of the Unsullied broker. She’s come a long way from the scared child-bride we met in the series premiere. Would they treat a man like that? Of course not. They’re from Westeros. Emilia Clarke has grown as an actress, as well. Watch her watch the slaves as she negotiates the trade of her biggest, strongest dragon for all of the Unsullied. If you believe she’s going to let her any of her most precious resources go to an Astapori slavedriver, I’ve got a dragon to sell you, too.
Much more likely to not care about bloody hands is Stannis’ Red Priestess. A little Baratheon blood sacrifice will get her burning for Stannis again, and I’m sure he’s okay with that after the look of pity she gave him before she left. She may as well have pat him on the head.
In King’s Landing, we learn the literal cost of the Iron Throne. It’s a hefty sum, and not something to trust in the hands of a pimp. The Iron Bank of Brothers has a motto to rival the Lannister’s unofficial credo: “Always pay your debts or we’ll send a rival army to kill you.” Sounds effective. Once again, Littlefinger manages to sneak away with clean hands and a few last trolls. Joke’s on him when he sees his crazy bride-to-be, Lysa Arryn. Can’t wait for that reunion.
Clean hands, dirty hands. Then there’s The Kingslayer.
First, let’s acknowledge that Brienne has a very naive idea of knighthood. And kings. Last week, she spoke about Renly as if she knew him. But she didn’t. She was in his Rainbow Guard for all of a day. She loved the idea of Renly. And she loves the idea of being a noble knight. The tragic thing is, she is a noble knight. I don’t think Jamie fully understood that until Brienne said she wouldn’t just take being raped. Or killed. It was the first time he really imagined being in her shoes.
I won’t lie; I miss the Bloody Mummers, but the lead Bolton bannerman reminds me of an even creepier Six-Fingered Man. I was so happy when Jaime used some quick thinking to save Brienne from a brutal gang rape and painful death. Who doesn’t love a good redemption arc? But of course, no good deed goes unpunished in Westeros. That was a brutal, short scene. What’s Jaime worth when his only percieved value is in his sword hand and his father’s name? You strip all of that away, and he’s just a scared man. But he’s still Jaime. And there are no men like him. I have a lot of confidence that Coster-Waldau will show us The Kingslayer’s vulnerable side.
Other things of note and Quote of the Week nominees:
Was that the best or worse choice of end credits music ever? It was a rousing rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” I’m glad they retired “Rains of Castamere” for an episode.
“Always the artists.” What a pan back that was at the Fist of the First Men. Who knew the Others were so creative? Is it bad that I thought we had two former HBO show castmates in one scene? (Rome and Luck. Too soon?)
“I’m no Stark of Winterhell.” Hot Pie had the best possible goodbye for a character like Hot Pie, i.e. he was still breathing. And he gets to pursue his passion for bread. You can’t ask for much more on this show.
“Look at him, he’s a walking feast.” Again with the Sam fat jokes. Did you get the feeling that if Craster wouldn’t let the Night’s Watch into his creepy hovel of incest, they’d have taken shelter there by force? Nice tension.
Am I overthinking Pod’s free ride? I like to think of it as Littlefinger’s troll against Tyrion—they are Littlefinger’s whores, after all. But maybe Pod is just that good? I’m sure many inquiring minds want to see a deleted scene. For clarity. Sure.
Next week: Tensions mount at Craster’s. Maybe Bran gets a scene.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9P.M. E/PT on HBO.