When this season of “Game of Thrones” started, I promised you that death was coming. This week, it hit hard and brutal. I hate the word, but even epic falls short. This is what high fantasy is supposed to look like. You don’t find television like this anywhere else.
In the Riverlands, Locke and his men mock the recently disarmed/dis-handed Jaime Lannister as they transport him and Brienne. Jaime attempts to fight back. Sword in his left-hand he finds himself overwhelmed and humiliated again. Brienne then chastises him when he tells her he’s given up on his life with his greatest asset gone. The two agree to soldier on, in order to take vengeance on Locke and his men. The pair are quickly becoming a rather offbeat buddy-team. It’s fun to watch the budding comradery between them, and it’ll be interesting to see how this further transforms Jaime’s character.
Elsewhere in the Riverlands, Arya, Gendry, and the Hound have been brought to the cave acting as headquarters for the Brotherhood without Banners. We’re introduced to their leader, Ser Beric Dondarrion (we met him once in season 1 when Ned Stark sent him to hunt down the Mountain). He explains the Brotherhood’s intentions, to bring justice to those who prey on the weak. Arya tells them about the Hound murdering a young boy (season 1), and Beric sentences him to trial by combat. He then volunteers himself as the opponent.
In Kings Landing, Tyrion meets with Lord Varys to discuss the attempt on his life at the Blackwater battle that left him scarred. Varys goes into a story about how he became a eunuch, while unsealing a large crate. As a young boy, Varys was sold to an old man, who turned out to be a sorcerer. The sorcerer cut Varys and used his parts in a sort of summoning ritual. Varys goes on to discuss the concept of patience, and influence. He then reveals the contents of the crate: the sorcerer.
Joffery is showing his new fiancee Margaery the sights in his castle, while a crowd forms outside. She convinces him that showing love to the people will gain their love in return. This seems to anger Queen Cersei, and she discusses the Tyrells as a problem with her father, Tywin.
“The revenge you seek will be yours in time.”
Later, we see Varys talking to Lady Olenna Tyrell about Sansa Stark and Littlefinger. He reveals the severity of the situation when he says “Littlefinger is one of the most dangerous men in Westeros.” His fear is that Littlefinger will marry Sansa in order to take both the North and the Eerie and become the most powerful Lord in the kingdoms. The two reveal that they both know the solution. Later, Margaery speaks to Sansa about marrying Loras Tyrell. The scene is a good payoff to all the focus Sansa has received this season with no previous explanation. Her role as the “key to the North” finally gives her some kind of relevance, and shows the lengths Littlefinger will go to secure the power he desires.
Beyond the Wall, the Nights Watch are growing restless at Crastor’s home, and dissent is creeping into the ranks. After a heated confrontation with Craster over the pittance they’re being fed, the old wildling lunges with a weapon and is killed. When Commander Mormont sees the bloody mess, he attempts to punish the man responsible and gets stabbed in the back. Infighting breaks out between men loyal to the Commander and the dissenters. In the melee, Sam flees with Gilly and her newborn son.
Meanwhile, Bran Stark has another dream of the Three-Eyed Crow. He climbs a tree to catch the mystical bird, and finds his mother there with him. She tells him “no more climbing” (mirroring the series premiere) and pushes him off the tree. Elsewhere in the North, Theon Greyjoy and his saviour are almost safe as they approach the keep where Theon’s sister Yara is waiting for him. The relief quickly turns to horror as he realizes the young man has purposely led him in a circle right back to the torture chamber he started in. Honestly, can we be sad for this guy?
“My true father lost his head in Kings Landing. I did choose, and I chose wrong.”
Across the Narrow Sea, in Astapor, Dany is finishing her business with the slaver, Kraznys. Handing her chained dragon, Drogon, to the slaver, she is given command of the entire Unsullied army and the whip that symbolizes her mastery over them. Kraznys complains that the dragon is not obeying him, and Dany reminds him in her native tongue (Valyrian) that “a dragon is not a slave,” showing that she has understood all the insults he has been hurling her with since she arrived. Ordering the Unsullied to attack, she sparks a massacre that ends with the slaughter of every slaver in the city. When the battle is over, she tells the Unsullied that they are free, but they choose to follow her regardless.
This week was one surprise after another. Every death was unexpected and brutal in its delivery. Theon’s re-imprisonment was shocking, and yet still unbelievably satisfying. The battle in the episode’s closing was mostly skipped over, but the scene was effective and exciting. It was also the first time we’ve seen Dany truly step into her role as a Queen and seem capable of real leadership. Also, I think I’m kind of in love with her now (surprising after an entire season of her whining last year). We don’t see anything regarding Jon Snow or Robb Stark, but with all the other chaos going on you hardly notice. The hour flew by like it always does.
“Will you fight for me as free men?”
This was the first episode of the season where the tension kicks off right at the start and doesn’t stop once. The heavy focus on the women of Westeros is interesting to watch and really shows the important roles the powerful women play in the male-dominated “Game of Thrones”. The writing is tight and clever. The action is intense and brutal. And the grand finale is (sorry again): Epic. As. Shit! This is the first perfect episode of the season, and helps gives it a momentum that could very well make it the best season yet.