GAME OF THRONES Recap: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”

     April 21, 2013


After an episode of Game of Thrones last week that was so visually exceptional, this week went on to match it in terms of action, although with lots and lots of talking (not necessarily a bad thing, though).  The bar has been set really high this season, and so far I think the show has risen to the occasion, being a lot clearer than last season’s sometimes chaotic storytelling.  It’s helped too that we didn’t see everyone in every episode — this week left out Robb, Jon, Stannis  and Davos, four very important characters — because with eleven other stories to tell in an hour, there was simply no room.  What I really liked about “And Now His Watch Has Ended” though was reflected in the title — this episode was all about the ladies (nearly), and it was very well wrought.  Hit the jump for why it burns, burns, burns, the Ring of Fire, the Ring of Fire.

game-of-thrones-and-now-his-watch-is-ended-sophie-turnerWith a few exceptions, the ladies really stole the show this week.  The biggest moment came from Dany, of course, who turned the tables on the deal with the Unsullied, taking (as she always says) what was hers by fire and blood (now that’s a good sigil).  But Dany is no tyrant — as Jorah has said in the past, what makes her such an exceptional leader is her “gentle heart,” which you forget about while she orders a man to be burned to death (few have ever been more deserving though).  But then she frees the slaves, kills all of the slave masters, and walks out of a city in ashes with her army of free men and her dragons while Jorah and Barristan just watch, jaws agape.  Badasssssssss!  The dragon effects and the filming at sunset where Dany’s blue on the white horse really stood out were also inspired, as was the shot of her standing calmly with the flames to her back.  Burn baby burn!

Elsewhere, Arya also showed her boldness (in a much more muted way) by calling the Hound out for murder, so he would have to stand trial in front of the Brotherhood Without Banners, a group of peasant fighters who have no allegiance to any house, but simply seek justice in the wake of the warring families’ destruction.  The Hound, not to be mistaken for his brother The Mountain, must still atone for his murder of an innocent boy, even though somehow you have to feel the slightest bit sorry for him.  Though the Brothers’ leader Beric Donderrian acknowledges Arya’s bravery, the Hound will have to fight him (“he who is reborn, worshipping the Lord of Light, the One True God!”  Sound familiar?) and sadly we won’t see that until next week (which I would have preferred rather than taking some moments with the 3-eyed crow).

As for lords and lights, Jaqen Hagar (R.I.P. your face) mentioned The Red God to Arya when granting her the three kills, and of course Melisandre is a priestess in the service of R’hllor / the Lord of Light (are they one in the same?).  Chillingly, Varys told the story of his castration to Tyrion and mentioned the part that continues to haunt him — not the sorcerer nor the loss of his genitalia, but the voice that answered back from the light.  Was it real?  And what did it mean?  Does it have anything to do with the fireball in the sky?  Are the forces controlling the fate of Westeros those of good, or vengeful darkness?

game-of-thrones-season-3-episode-4-diana-riggVarys had more screen time than maybe ever before, which maybe makes sense for a Master of Whispers in an episode heavy on machinations.  He chatted with Tyrion before exacting his revenge on his torturer, then later commiserated with Ros as well as the Queen of Thorns (Lady Olenna), who has more quips than Joffery has creepy crypts to show to Margaery.  The Tyrells may not have the most imposing sigil or house motto, but Lady Olenna and her granddaughter represent a new, powerful femininity in Westeros (mirrored by Dany across the Shining Sea).  Lady Olenna’s discussion with Varys about Sansa lead Margaery to butter her up in service of the desire to have Sansa wed Loras, for a number of helpful reasons.  One, Sansa’s probably the only person left in the Seven Kingdoms who doesn’t realize Loras is gay (she’s sweet, naive, and will go along with it), and of course then the Starks will be powerfully tied to the Tyrells if and when Robb wins his battles.  Oh, and it keeps Littlefinger’s dangerous delusions of grandeur at bay.  Even the highborn can be pawns in the game.

Margaery showed off some more of her cunning when she feigned interest in Joffery’s morbid death talk, even standing up to him once in a way Sansa could never have done, though finessing it in such a way as to bend him gently to her will.  She sets him up to go before the crowds — her work with the people of King’s Landing has not gone unnoticed by the denizens of the capital — they chant her name, and Joffrey sees how beloved she is and therefore, by extension, so is he.  Cersei regards all of this as a slip in her power, something Tywin reminds her she never had.  Though Cersei, inspired by these strong women, makes a play for her father’s favor, she squanders her opportunity by whining about the Tyrells.  Tywin then cuts her down with, “I don’t trust you not because you’re a woman, but because you aren’t as smart as you think you are.”  Touché!

Women continued to shake off their shackles in the North, too, with Gilly able to leave with Sam to protect her son and escape the carnage.  Two guys we have pretty much never seen lead a rebellion to kill that bastard (I’ll say it!) Craster (finally) which also lead to the similarly gruesome death of old Mormont (sad).  In the killing frenzy though, no one’s survival was certain, and it was smart for Sam to run.  Things are falling apart with the Night’s Watch, which is a terrifying prospect for all of those south of the Wall who have no idea Winter is actually coming …

game-of-thrones-season-3-episode-4-jack-gleesonAnother really superb episode this season, even though I still think that eleven stories are too many for one hour (we spent how much time with Bran and Jojen regarding his dream, a minute?) and it’s caused some stories that are in much later books to skitter really far forward (like Theon’s savior turning out to be a deranged, manipulative torturer).  But, in Weiss and Benioff I (once again) trust … George R. R. Martin better start writing, fast.

Episode Rating: A-

Musings and Miscellanea:

– Torture was another theme this week, and no one had it worse than Jaime.  But I have a quibble.  Brienne saying he was acting “like a woman” was such a weird change from the book.  For one thing: Brienne would never!  Also, as my friend Kelly pointed out, Jaime is kind of one of the biggest female supporters in the series.  In the original text Brienne calls him a coward, which shocks Jaime to his core, waking him up from his doldrums — it’s a word never used on him before.  To call him a woman though?  I don’t get it.

– Regardless, I loved their bonding scene.

– I kinda liked that there were still discussions to Pod being a sex god.  Hilarious.

– The show doesn’t use the word “craven” enough.

– Margaery and Sansa’s scene was so sweet — is this the first time we’ve seen Sansa smile since Season One?!  I know Marg is kind of playing her, but on the other hand, I think it’s ultimately to Sansa’s advantage. (Also, so much beauty in one scene!)

– I was really pissed the Hound and Beric didn’t fight in this episode. I was ready!

– The reveal that Dany could understand everything the slaver was saying from Day One was amazing in and of itself.  Everything about her scenes was 100% “fuck yeah!” this week.

game-of-thrones-season-3-emilia-clarke– “Influence grows like a weed” – Varys.

– There’s been one scene each week that I felt was shoehorned in (appearing without much / any context or explanation or relating to the larger themes), and this week it was Bran.

– Jaime having to carry his hand reminds me of an inversion of Davos proudly carrying his sack of fingers.

– I really love Grenn and Ed – the dialogue this week was really great, and theirs always feels really natural.  Yikes at the rest of it, though.  R.I.P., Bear.

– Beautiful production design when Joff was showing Marg the tombs.  Stunning stuff.

– Surprising that Lady Olenna would throw shade on her house with the, “oh a gold rose? how original” talk.

– And now my screeners have ended, meaning henceforth reviews will come after I’ve watched the show live, followed by Mad Men.  Prayer circle …

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  • Albert

    This is my favorite episode this season so far. Somehow, since Daenerys arrived to the city, I felt she knew Valyrian but pretended that she didn’t. Every time she had a conversation with the slave master (I can’t recall his name), I was waiting for that moment when she began to speak Valyrian and everyone would be completely surprised. And it happened, and it was exactly like how I imagined it. Such a badass moment. Very very epic.
    I was also completely mindfucked at Margaery’s ability to influence and persuade people to her favor. It’s amazing to watch.
    Still don’t feel sorry for Theon. You deserve it.
    Only complain was that we only saw Tyrion for like 3 minutes. But it’s understandable.

  • Alan B

    I am always stunned by Keene’s continual trust in ‘Homeland’ and her fractured relationship to ‘Game of Thrones’. ‘Homeland’ juggles less stories per season, sure, but it does a poor job in wrapping up/delivering on the intrigue suggested by earlier episodes, whilst ‘Game of Thrones’ is judged more harshly ONLY because it is more ambitious, despite the fact it actually DELIVERS on its ambitions (compare how the Daenerys Targaryen arc of last season was resolved, through irony and dramatic fulfillment, and the Rupert Friend arc was resolved, by him not doing something). The deaths in ‘Game of Thrones’ are genuinely shocking, because we have come to care for the characters and become involved in their lives. The deaths in ‘Homeland’ are always frustrating because the showrunners clearly know they have written themselves into a corner, and only know how to kill characters in order to get themselves out of them. Plus, the writers have NO FUCKING IDEA how to develop an interesting plot, which explains why Lewis was spending more of his time taking names/asses in the past season instead of, you know, being a VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE THAT COULD ACTUALLY MAKE SOME CHANGES TO AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY.

    • Allison Keene

      Well, Homeland totally lost me in the back half of the second season, but I desperately tried to hold on to it wanting it to be better (and trying to give it the benefit of the doubt … which it squandered again and again!) The Game of Thrones recaps are hard for me because I want to fangirl over things that are happening, but I’m also not surprised by them (because I read the books). I will try to inject more excitement into next week’s review!

  • Drew

    We received a hint about Danys’ languages last week when she translated Valar Morghulis.

    I’d say Brienne said Jaime was acting like a woman to be ironic.

    • Allison Keene

      Drew I’m hoping you’re right re: Jaime and Brienne especially given the thrust of the episode, but that may giving too much credit. but I will blindly believe it anyway!

  • sloan

    More quips than crypts… Oh Allison. I was so ready for the Beric and Hound fight too! What a tease. I liked that Brienne called Jamie a woman, most people wouldn’t realize that she wouldn’t say that cuz they haven’t read the books and Jamie goads her about it even if he doesn’t mean it. It was only meant to keep him alive. Best relationship of the third book, besides the Hound and Arya. Haha, I don’t have to worry about mentioning things from future episodes, suck on that TV only fans. Just kidding, but no seriously…. Anyway, another good review, and good luck watching the show at the same time as the rest of us.

    • Allison Keene

      haha I just have a feeling that watching GoT followed by Mad Men is going to produce some weird reviews in coming weeks as I filter Westeros through 1960s Manhattan

  • Sean Brazell

    And now,
    a lesson from Tonight’s Game Of Thrones:

    If a blonde woman ever comes to your island and asks to buy your slave army for a dragon ,
    say no.

    It just isn’t worth it.

    Trust me.

    • Bwira Jean Claude

      Great review. Why cant she use her dragon fo burn other cities?! Never frust blonds yes they are stupid and not that stupid as we think they are… lol

  • JJ

    Fantastic episode. The ending was simply epic.

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  • LEM

    I’m continually amazed at how this show juggles the many story lines at once and doesn’t seem to favor one over the other yet they’re able to move them forward at the same time. There are many shows that should take note as to how you run a series.

    • Allison Keene

      I think they’ve done an exceptional job with it this year — they seem to have settled into a pattern of leaving out 3-4 characters / plots a week, which, thank the Drowned God. It helps to rotate all of the action AND give more time to the characters that are featured in that week.

  • RunnerX13

    Is/was Mormont a traitor? I feel like they hinted that he has ties to the White Walkers?

    • Allison Keene

      I think they had just lost faith in his leadership, and then realized when he drew his sword on them after they killed Craster that they would have to kill him, too. but! what is dead may never die …

  • Bob

    Amazing episode. Best of the season so far followed by last weeks episode. Its finnally dtarting to pick up and its getting amazing once again.

  • TJ!

    am I the only one who thought it looked like Dany was wearing acid washed jeans under her blue dress/shirt thingy? I mean, I know they weren’t “supposed” to be jeans but they sure looked like something your average Bon Jovi fan would have been wearing circa 1988…

  • eternalozzie

    What did we learn this week? You don’t fuck with Calisi.

  • brNdon

    Don’t know if it was in the books, but I called the Danys/Valyrian thing last week.

    • Daan

      It’s in the books, although there you already know Danearys knows from the beginning, less of a surprise when the slave trader gets surprised in the books.. but just as epic

  • Johnson

    Hey, what the hell is the author’s problem with the Brann subplot in the episode. I actually liked it and it rather scary!

  • Homer Lannister

    Well, a storm of swords is the best book in the series, so by default season 3 and 4 should overall be better than 1 or 2, the same way season 1 is better than season 2 because A game of thrones is better than a clash of kings.

  • TheRealBukzit

    Been waiting for that moment since ever.
    freed Unsullied, ” …Valyrian is my mother tongue …kill all slaves masters, harm no children!”

    • TheRealBukzit

      “Don’t call him nephew, …he’s your KING!!”