HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 3, Ep. 8: “Second Sons”

Why, hello, Daario.

“Second Sons” is fine for a title, but it doesn’t leave much room for the women of Game of Thrones, many of whom also had a difficult time performing their duties this week. So much duty this week. And boobs. And leeches and lechers.

Gendry bled, Tyrion wed, Davos read, and… Samwell got to not be a big fat stupid for about five minutes.

Note: episode reviews are largely spoiler-free for the books, but spoilers are fair game in the comments. Be warned.

If anything’s a long-running theme on Game of Thrones, it’s duty—to family, to realm, to honor, to oneself. Duty brought down Ned Stark. His son Robb struggles with it. Tyrion chafes at the constant reminder of it. And Sansa bears the weight of duty on her young shoulders like the walking wounded, an emptiness in her eyes, submerging her real feelings deep inside where no one can hurt them.

How long can we stand to watch a fourteen-year-old girl constantly have her hopes and dreams ground down to nothing? No brave knight—or spymaster—came to rescue her from her forced marriage to Tyrion. And how would she escape on her own? She’s no Arya. Sansa had to go through with it. When that little shit Joffrey says he’ll have knights hold her down so he can rape her when her new husband passes out, Sansa has to take it. And what will her husband’s father do to her if she doesn’t get with child soon? Tywin’s threats weren’t directly lobbed at Sansa, but why do I get the feeling it’s way easier to openly blame the (daughter of a “traitor”) wife for infertility in this kingdom vs. a rich little lord.

The Gold Wedding (as it’s known in the books) was just as depressing as I pictured it. The doors of the sept closing behind Sansa as Joffrey walked her down the aisle sounded like the lid of a sarcophagus being slid into place. How apt.

Sansa undressing for Tyrion was probably the most profoundly sad scene on this show in some time.

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8 Second Sons

But, on the bright side, she married Tyrion, not Joffrey. If you have to marry a Lannister, he’s probably the best bet. Kudos to Tyrion for not being a rapist pig like his nephew. Kudos to him for threatening to cut off Joffrey’s cock, even if it was a big lapse in judgment and a pretty empty threat. Little bastard sure knows how to ruin a wedding party, eh? Kudos to anyone who tells Joffrey to go fuck himself. I feel terrible for Tyrion in this, too. Forget annoying Shae and his ill-advised feelings for her. As an intelligent and pretty empathetic man, you just feel for him as he delicately, awkwardly, drunkenly navigates a bad situation.

“And so my watch begins.” ::passes out on a divan:: Best laugh-out-loud moment of the night.

Over in Dragonstone, a trueborn son, Stannis, seems to feel bad about sacrificing royal bastard (the nice, Jon Snow kind of bastard, not the evil Ramsay Bolton/Joffrey kind) Gendry. For thirty seconds. He’s got places to be, man, he can’t stop for Onion Knights and their messy consciences. How about the stink-eye Stannis gave Melisandre when he interrupted her mid-naked bloodletting ritual? I loved her description of her M.O. (“The lambs never saw the knife”) and I get why she had to make Gendry comfortable, but, damn, after Theon’s sexytimes-turned-emasculation scene last week… I started feeling queasy again.

So, watch out usurpers, you’ve made the Lord of Light’s shitlist. And Stannis had a point—Davos saw Mel’s shadow-baby. How can you doubt her god has real power? Watch out, Robb (boo), Joff (yay! hurry!) and Balon Greyjoy (him? really? Egg? Where are the other krakens this season?) So, can Gendry go home now? Yeah… probably not going to be so easy.

The actual Second Sons of the night were a company of two thousand sellswords outside of Yunkai. Things went down a little differently in the books, with Dany talking to two different groups of swords for hire, telling each one “But I am a young girl, new to the ways of war” as she plotted against them. But we’re on TV-time here and need to keep moving forward.

Another big change from the books? Daario looks like this:

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8 Second SonsCan you imagine Dany—or anyone—getting seduced by a blue and gold-bearded clown with naked lady hilts and gold teeth and stupid yellow jester clothes? Not really. I haaaaaaaate book Daario and Dany’s desire for him. Not as much as Jorah’s going to haaaaaate him, but still. He’s a merc, he’s a creepy, leering, swaggering jerk. So of course someone as young as Dany might fall for his textbook Bad Boy vibe. But after Khal Drogo? This is the guy who gets you going? She should know better. She can do better.

This TV-Daario? Well, he’s got the swagger and the naked lady hilts, but he doesn’t make my skin crawl. He has a twisted kind of honor to him, loving beauty as he does. Wanting to serve beauty. And compared to his former boss, he’s at least not completely disgusting. So now Dany has two thousand more swords to fight against Yunkai. Dany’s really good at swelling her ranks. (Why does that sound so dirty?)

In much colder climes, Samwell and Gilly were not quite as cute as Jon Snow and Ygritte, but it seemed like a good start. Sam’s a little… awkward, shall we say? I liked their exchange about the importance of good names.

But… but… White Walker attack! Finally! That was awesome! I loved Sam finally growing a pair, remembering he had a dragonglass dagger, even if he didn’t know what it would do. Sam slayed a White Walker all by himself! And then it froze solid and broke in a million pieces. Great effects this whole season. And then there’s the ravens.

And then…Sam left his special magical dagger in the snow as he ran away with Gilly. Dammit, Samwell!

Other points of interest and Quote of the Week nominees:

  • Not much really happening with Arya and the Hound although she looks like an adorable little gnat buzzing around a giant black hound when she threatens Sandor’s life. Arya, like Sansa, isn’t in such terrible company. Sandor may sell her back to Robb, but at least he’ll protect her on the road and—do I really have to give him props for not raping and killing a nine-year-old? Jeez, this show. Queasiness rising again. You’d also think Arya would ask more about her sister. I know they’re not close, but Sansa’s her family. You think she’d be dying for some news from King’s Landing.
  • “If you ever call me sister again I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.”—Cersei being Cersei. A nice, chilling story about how your daddy wipes out all the men, women, and children from a house that openly rebels against him is the perfect cocktail party gossip, no? That lesson on the origins of that song—the only song Tywin Lannister likes—becomes very important next week, when the episode title is “The Rains of Castamere.” You know Margaery didn’t miss the jab at houses “not happy to be on the second rung of the ladder.” But she—and her house—don’t seem the type to be happy looking up from beneath the heel of the Lannisters.
  • I feel bad for Sansa, but she could at least have extended Tyrion some courtesy when Joffrey took his stepping stool away. (As a short person myself, fuck you, Joffrey! What a dick move.) That crowd? They’re laughing at your husband now. Have a little empathy.
  • “But your brother will become your father-in-law. That much is not in dispute.” Ha! Olenna rules.
  • “I saw a great battle in the snow in the flames.”—Stannis. Making a note of that.
  • I was probably the only person who recognized the actor playing Prendahl na Ghezn from Mira Nair’s gorgeous Kama Sutra. But he was quite the looker back then. (Maybe you Anglophiles recognize Ramon Tikaram from the way more popular EastEnders?) Nice guest spot.
  • “Enog..enog…enough!” Hooray! Hooked On Phonics worked for Davos!
  • Missandei geeking out over High Valyrian.
  • “We had philosophical differences.”—Daario, before gifting Dany with his former associates’ heads
  • “I suppose there’s rather a philosophical difference between a wink and a blink.”—Samwell. I think Daario’s example is a little more extreme. But nice little echoing of the statement.

Next week: No new episode due to Memorial Day. Maybe watch all the new episodes of Arrested Development. Or get some sunshine. But come back the evening of 6/2 at 10:01 PM EST for a special episode review where we can discuss ALL THE FEELS.)

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8 Second Sons

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci


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