After an exciting premiere, Game of Thrones slowed down a little this week and relied on a lot of exposition (but no trademark sexposition!) Things jumped around quite a bit, checking in on everyone except for Dany and Stannis, which was fairly mind-boggling. Adding to that, we met quite a few new people. It’s at times like these I wonder about you non-book readers. I’m excited to see the faces of familiar characters, whereas I can only imagine most people watching are thinking, “who’s this new, unwashed bearded guy? I was just starting to get the other 39 unwashed, bearded guys straight!” Actually occasionally I feel that way, too. Anyway, this week we swirled all around the Seven Kingdoms and came out knowing a lot more than we did, without really knowing too much. Hit the jump, I have lemon cakes!
“Dark Wings, Dark Words” was about trust, something that is very, very hard to figure out in Westeros. Bran is asked to trust this new brother and sister pair the Reeds, but that’s an easy one. Jojen has already appeared in his dreams, and tames Bran’s Direwolf Summer easily. Jojen and Meera seem to have come in service of Bran, too, which is interesting. They (or at least Jojen — Meera acts as his protector) are teaching Bran a little bit about his powers, such as being able to have “the sight” and being a warg.
Warging is something we also got a glimpse of with Jon beyond the Wall, where a Wildling named Orell (Mackenzie Crook) was shown having the ability to enter into an animal’s mind and see through its eyes, giving the Wildings some excellent recon. Here the idea of trust played out as well, with Mance not yet fully trusting Jon (as well he shouldn’t in his position) and, elsewhere beyond the Wall, Sam’s fellow Crows no expecting him to keep up, and he doesn’t expect them to wait for him (turns out, it depends: if they’re marching, they’ll help out; if there are White Walkers? Well, “you’re fat and slow and we don’t want to die!”)
In one of the best plots, wholly removed from the others, Brienne and Jaime continue on their quip-filled quest towards Kings Landing, which ends via a duel between them (with Brienne coming out on top, though Jaime was chained). The two were sold out by the “innocent” that Brienne let go past them which Jamie had warned her about, and picked up by Roose Bolton’s men (his son?) Since Roose now has charge of Harrenhal while Robb moves towards the Riverlands for his grandfather’s funeral, presumably Brienne and Jaime will now go that way. Book Reader Sidenote: things with the Boltons, Harrenhal, Jaime/Brienne and Arya are so assbackwards from the books there’s no use in trying to figure out this new timeline. Best to just go with the way the show is presenting things I guess.
Speaking of Robb, no one trusts Talisa except for him, and her presence is causing increased dissension among the ranks. Catelyn is particularly is cold towards her, probably for good reason, but Cat also got a very heartbreaking moment (and a new one, i.e. not in the books). It gave more context for her feelings towards Jon, and humanized her (when she often gets marginalized), but then also added a weird idea that everything bad that has happened to the Starks is because she couldn’t love Jon. That is some mega guilt, and I’m not sure how much it does for her as a character besides make her pitiful (which is unfortunate).
The Stark children are doing relatively better than she thinks, with Arya getting picked up by the Brotherhood Without Banners, who take in Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry without wanting to kill them — another rarity in Westeros — until Arya is spotted and outed by the Hound, who is wandering around drunk since he fled King’s Landing. Sansa, who should have fled with him, is potentially trusting Littlefinger, an idea Tyrion cannot even fathom because Littlefinger is one of the biggest liars in the kingdom. On the other hand, Sansa is left with so few options, maybe it’s not a bad idea. In the meantime, Sansa was tempted via lemon cakes to bare her soul to Margaery and her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg), Game of Thrones‘ Dowager Countess it seems, where it should be safe.
As we have seen in the past, Margaery knows how to play the game well, and it’s not just her father who wants her to be Queen, but she herself. Knowing that Joffrey is an unpredictable monster, she finesses her time with him well, seducing him (in a way) by suggesting he watch her kill things (sexy!) Cersei continues to give her the hard side-eye, cautioning Joffrey that she knowingly visits the poor and dresses like a harlot as part of the game, which he is falling directly into. But Cersei no longer has power over her evil son, and the king will do what he wants.
Cersei doesn’t trust Margaery, Margaery doesn’t trust Joffrey, Sansa will trust anyone who gives her lemon cakes, Tyrion doesn’t trust anyone, and most everyone this week was caught in a battle of knowing who to listen to and who not to (the gods? Former prostitute handmaidens? Three-eyed crows?) There wasn’t much action (the sword fight between Jamie and Brienne being a rare burst of energy), but there were some really great moments, mostly from the Starks. The show is also positioning the Boltons, who haven’t been talked about much as a house, as bringing various stories together, from Brienne and Jaime to Robb to torturing Theon on the flayed man’s cross (he should be lucky he’s not getting flayed). A lot of exposition this week touching on a lot of stories after a more restrained premiere, but still a strong episode.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I’m a little surprised at how calm Robb was about the sacking of his home and the disappearance of his brothers.
— I loved it when Rickon just ran off and Bran was all “sigh. the Direwolves will look after him.” Rickon is such a nutcase.
— Michelle Fairley was perfect in her portrayal during Catelyn’s sad story.
— “He liked little curly haired girls like Loras Tyrell. You’re too much man for him” — Jaime to Brienne. Jaime gets the best one-liners towards her.
— “Intelligent women do what their told” — Joff would totally have this bumper sticker today.
— Another great acting moment: Sophie Turner playing the terrified Sansa when speaking to Margaery and Olenna.
— I would love to see Olenna and Jaime have a quip-off.
— Everyone hates cave people.