It was a slow week in Westeros. But “Game of Thrones” has a way of making time fly by even when you’re watching nothing but conversation for sixty minutes. This only reinforces my belief that this remains the best written show on television. The action may not always be there, and occasionally we may go a week with little to no tits on screen, but the quality never falters.
In Kings Landing, we see Joffery and his new fiancee Margaery getting much more acquainted. He with her marital past, she with his golden crossbow. The symbolism is less than subtle. Sansa Stark is then invited to meet with Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna (to the applause of many of you book readers) to discuss Joffery. It is nice to finally see Sansa mature a little and stop acting like a scared child. She tells the truth about Joffery: “He’s a monster.” We only get a brief scene with Tyrion this week, meeting Shae for a quickie, while talking about how bangable Sansa is… it’s semi-unsettling.
“I didn’t ask for black magic dreams.”
Beyond the Wall, Jon is traveling with Mance and the Wildling army. There, he’s introduced to a Warg (able to enter the minds of animals) named Orell (Mackenzie Crook, of “The Office UK” fame) who tells them of the White Walkers slaughtering the Nights Watch rangers. It’s a brief scene, but crucial to introduce us to the concept of Wargs, which is becoming important to Bran Stark’s story as well. Meanwhile the survivors of the attack march back toward the Wall, while Sam Tarly cries in guilt over his failure to warn his brothers of the coming attack.
Heading North, Arya and her companions meet Thoros and the Brotherhood Without Banners, who give her a good meal before sending her on her way. Her exit is interrupted by the return of The Hound, now a prisoner of the Brotherhood. This marks our first time seeing The Hound again since his disgraceful exit from the Battle of the Blackwater last season. He reveals Arya’s identity, which peaks Thoros’s interest. Arya’s story is slowly unfolding, but readers know it’s well worth the wait, and Maisie Williams is playing her wonderfully, and she’s really turning into a great young actress.
“I think you lost this war the day you married her.”
Robb Stark and his mother receive word of an attack on Riverrun (her homeland), and turn their attention from the war campaign to attend the funeral of Catelyn’s father. They also discover the state of Winterfell since its razing in the finale last year, and the disappearance of Bran and Rickon Stark. Robb’s campaign i getting a tad tedious, and his men are actually voicing that opinion themselves. For a King fighting a war, they haven’t done much fighting yet.
At an undisclosed location, the traitorous Theon Greyjoy is getting the torture he deserves. But a young servant claiming to be sent by his sister promises to free him soon if he can. We can only hope that never happens, and Theon loses a bit more skin before he goes.
In the final scene, Brienne continues to escort Jaime Lannister toward Kings Landing to trade him for Sansa. After being spotted by a farmer, they cross a bridge where Jaime seizes an opportunity to take one of his captor’s weapons. A rather epic duel ensues which sees Jaime defeated by the she-warrior. Her victory is short-lived however, as the two are captured by a band of men carrying the Bolton flag (the Bolton’s being some of Robb Stark’s fiercest supporters).
We’re shown no updates on Daenerys or Stannis and Davos, but honestly it’s no loss. Dany’s story is moving at such a snail’s pace since the loss of Drogo, and the war and politics of Westeros is more intriguing anyway.
“Some people will always need help. It doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping.”
The real star this week is Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright). He continues his journey toward the Wall with his brother Rickon, who is once again given no screen time, the wildling Osha, and his gigantic manservant Hodor. It’s obvious that Wright has hit his growth spurt, and is too big for Hodor to carry on his back anymore. He spends the episode being dragged in a wagon. Bran meets the Reed siblings, Jojen and Meera, who have come searching for the Stark boy following a dream. Jojen has prophetic dreams like Bran, and teaches him a bit about these powers.
There’s no action to be seen this week apart from the sword fight at the end, but I was hooked the whole time. The shift of focus toward the younger Stark children is great to see, as their both wonderful actors, particularly Maisie Williams, who just oozes charisma and likability. And with all the political scheming and battle planning going on, it’s nice to get a break and see the development of two innocent characters just trying to make their way in the violent, horrific world they’ve been stranded in without their father.
“I try to know as many people as I can. You never know which ones you’ll need.”
You also have to appreciate the slow, gradual increase in the story’s supernatural elements. Obviously we got dragons in the first season. Last year we were introduced to witches, warlocks, and an army of snow zombies. Now we’re getting giants, wargs, and psychics as well. And it all manages to mesh perfectly and seem natural. Everything is a surprise, but nothing is out of place.
Overall, the episode is a quiet one, but it allows the writing to shine and the characters to have some time for growth and not just killing and screwing. Westeros is in a horrible state of war, but it doesn’t mean all we get is carnage and mayhem. Perhaps it is trying to tell us that there’s hope. That maybe, just maybe, there can be peace and love in this imperfect but beautiful world, if we all just– Bwahaha! No. War never changes. Death is coming for everyone. Blood and mayhem will return soon. No one is safe. The game of thrones continues.