Oh, it was a barn burner in Westeros this week. Picking up the pace a bit from last week, “Game of Thrones”, “Walk of Punishment” gives us some hard-hitting drama, some good laughs, long-awaited characters, and tons of great dialogue. The few and brief scenes of epic war may be fantastic, but episodes like this are why “Game of Thrones” is so great. Not to mention, it had one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. They payoff was just so… so… just read.
In Riverrun, Robb and and Catelyn Stark attend the semi-disastrous funeral of her father, Hoster Tully. Her brother, Edmure fails three times to ignite the funeral pyre with his bow. His uncle Brynden “Blackfish” steps in, takes one shot, and walks away without even looking. Cool guys don’t look at flaming boats. Edmure is further humiliated by Robb when he’s chastised for letting the Mountain (a brutish Lannister thug) get away rather than draw him in for capture. Instead two frightened little Lannister preteens were captured instead. Fair trade. It’s good to see Robb hasn’t lost his spark as a strong leader after being constantly questioned by his men so far this season.
In the North, Theon is freed by his mysterious saviour, and almost gets away. He’s soon captured by a trio of Northmen, who are prepared to take him down a notch before he’s spectacularly rescued by the same young saviour. Still heading north, Arya and the Brotherhood are ready to push on from the inn they’re staying at. It’s a brief moment, but at least we know she’s still moving. She also says goodbye to her pudgy friend, Hot Pie, who decides to stay on at the inn.
North of the Wall, Jon Snow continues his trek with the Wildlings. Mance Rayder and he come upon the aftermath of the White Walker attack on the Nights Watch. Seeing the bloody spectacle, Mance orders his man Tormund to take Jon and twenty other men to scale the Wall and take Castle Black. Meanwhile, the other Rangers arrive back at Craster’s Keep for shelter on the way back to the Wall. While there, Sam witnesses his crush, Gilly, giving birth to a baby boy. From last season, we know Craster has a habit of losing his sons in the cold, dark woods.
“I’m going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!”
In Kings Landing, Tywin assmbles the new Small Council, announcing Tyrion as the new Master of Coin. It’s a step down for the former Hand, but a hell of a lot better than living in a broom closet. Tyrion’s predecessor, the scheming pimp Littlefinger, is sent off to the Vale to marry Catelyn’s sister Lysa, and deprive the Starks of another ally. Tyrion settles into his new role, gathering the books and weighing the numbers. This proves to be an eye-opening experience as he realizes the Crown is in massive debt not only to his father, but the Iron Bank of Braavos as well. A dangerous situation if the money is not promptly repaid. We also get a hilarious scene where Tyrion sends his squire Podrick to a trio of hookers, only to find out they returned his money afterward. Of course Tyrion demands “details… copious details.”
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is completing her purchase of the Unsullied, an army of well-trained slave soldiers. When she is told she cannot afford the number she wants, more than 8000, she offers one of her dragons as payment. The slaver accepts, though Jorah and Barristan both voice their disapproval, but Dany quickly puts them in their place.
“Rhaegar fought valiantly. Rhaegar fought nobly. And Rhaegar died.”
Finally, still a captive of Locke and his soldiers, Jaime and Brienne find themselves in hostile conditions. Brienne is almost raped until Jaime convinces Locke she is a noblewoman, worth more of a ransom if she is unharmed. This is the first spark of kindness we’ve seen in Jaime since he pushed Bran out the window. Oh, the things we do for love. Locke seems intrigued by the thought of riches, and so Jaime tries to persuade him to defect to the Lannisters’ side. Locke seems ready and willing and unties Jaime to offer him food and a bed. Things soon go south though, when Locke instead insults Jaime for always hiding behind his rich father. He declares “you’re nothing without your daddy.” He then gives Jaime a permanent reminder and in one fell swoop takes the Kingslayer’s sword hand! Cue credits, and badass medieval rock tune.
Everything was great. The laughs were many, mostly thanks to more Tyrion time than last week. The failed funeral pyre was also funny as all hell. It was also followed by one of the most heart-wrenching scenes as Catelyn remembers her late father. It’s the most down I’ve been since Ned died. It’ll be interesting to see the transformation of Jaime’s character now that he’s not the best swordsman in Westeros anymore.
We’re also getting a good sense that more of the stories are setting themselves on a collision course, and we can expect much more intertwined plots to come. The ending was also one of the best and most shocking (at least for non-readers of the series) I’ve seen in some time. It just made you go “WHAT THE HELL!” And the rocking credit song (heard earlier sung by a band of soldiers) capped it off perfectly in a very surreal, postmodern kind of way. Some may disagree and say it didn’t fit. I don’t.
“If I were a woman, I’d make them kill me. But I’m not. Thank the Gods.”
Great, great, great episode this week. Every part just played out so well and it flew by way too fast. Ten episodes is starting to seem like cruel punishment for a series that could easily spare thirteen a season. The blood and death is getting more frequent, and we know there’s more to come soon. Much more. So strap in, and get ready for probably the deadliest season of “Game of Thrones” yet. And while you wait for next week, here’s the awesome ending tune to help you visualize the ending over and over. It was basically: Shout! *CHOP* SCREEEEEAM! And…