This week on Game of Thrones, Westeros burns with desire, vengeance, fever, holy fire, and questions. Plots beget counter-plots and counter-counter plots. And the seeds are planted for some very big events.
Oh, and Jon Snow knows something, after all….
Note: Show spoilers after the cut, book spoilers likely in the comments. Proceed with caution.
First, wasn’t it nice to see Ned Stark in the “Previously on…?” I miss you, Bean.
Last week’s episode ended in fire and fire opens this week’s hour. We get right to The Hound’s trial by combat with Beric Dondarrion. I really love the fight choreography on this show; this dance moved very differently than Jaime and Brienne’s two weeks ago. Sandor disarmed Beric pretty quickly and, like Arya has said, the worst ones always live—but wait! Beric didn’t die, either. He has not yet ceased to be.
I really think I would’ve missed his resurrection if I didn’t read the books. It just happened really fast and with no real fanfare or explanation until later in the episode. I was too busy watching Arya scream.
Where will The Hound go? And what about Gendry? Losing Gendry’s a much bigger loss to Arya (and us) than Hot Pie. A lot of this episode was about serving and serving honorably. Gendry remarked on this more than most. There is no better, higher service than family. Of course Arya understands. For whatever the Brotherhood Without Banners may prove to be, they are all a family of misfits.
Jon Snow cemented his status with the wildlings by disclosing some Night’s Watch intel and for his reward he got to break his final vow with Ygritte. It was a sweet romantic scene. They’re a cute couple.
Jaime and Brienne make a cute couple, too, if not a romantic pairing. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is doing an excellent job of giving Jaime Lannister depth. I loved pretty much everything he did this week. Why did he refuse milk-of-the-poppy? Penance? Wanting to keep his wits about him always? Foolish pride? Balls of steel? Maybe we, the viewers, need to see him suffer so our sympathies shift. Again, we hear of the real story of how Jaime earned that Kingslayer/Oathbreaker moniker. There are two sides to every story. Even honorable Saint Ned can be wrong. You could practically see something click in Brienne as she listened.
Ned’s ghost hovered over Robb’s story tonight, too, when he picked up his heavy sword for an execution. Robb’s rule is unraveling no matter what he does and his bannerman are going Karstark-raving mad. Ugh. Karstark gets no sympathy from me for killing defenseless children. Robb is so stuck between a rock and a hard place. I get where he was coming from, seeing treason. But he should have listened to his advisors on this one—without a recent victory, the North is crumbling. I think Robb knows it, too, when he stalked off after taking Karstark’s head.
I’m mystified by the way women prop up Stannis. When he’s not leading a charge, he’s got all of the charisma of a bowl of brown. Nice that being the One God’s champion gives you a pass on infidelity. I think it’s tellingly pathetic that when his Red Priestess isn’t around, he goes back to his wife. Then, she reveals a bunch of dead pickled babies and you can maybe understand why he strayed in the first place.
I’m glad we got to meet his daughter Shireen. (Her scarred face isn’t a birth defect, by the way. She had an infection called greyscale as an infant. The editing was misleading on that account.) I’m really happy that Shireen’s jester Patchface seems to be written out. This show is creepy enough without adding an insane clown. It’s better to have Davos be her friend. Free the Onion Knight! Get him hooked on phonics!
I especially loved the transition from Shireen telling Aegon Targaryen’s story to his descendent Dany leading the Unsullied away from Astapor. As expected, tensions are mounting between Jorah and Barristan Selmy. The latter man is pretty forward for a guy new to serving under a Khaleesi. While Selmy may have a point about Jorah’s reputation in Westeros being a potential future problem for Dany, I think we can all agree that Jorah has earned his stripes and would never sell men as slaves again.
In the South, you can tell Cersei’s really desperate to get rid of the Tyrells because she goes to Littlefinger for help. Which of course totally blows up in her face. And Sansa’s. And Tyrion’s.
Tywin is kissed by fire because he is master of the burn. Damn. Father of the year. I feel bad for Cersei—she actually begged not to be sold off like a brood mare—but she should really not gloat within earshot of her dad.
Between the newly announced nuptials and Robb thinking that getting the Freys back on his side is a great plan, all I heard over the credits was….
Other (minor) points of interest:
- Shireen’s song was really haunting. Loved it.
- Grey Worm’s pretty cute for a guy named Grey Worm.
Next week: Jon Snow and the wildlings climb the Wall, Robb Stark digs himself a deeper hole.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9P.M. E/PT on HBO.