GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Second Sons”

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Game of Thrones is juggling a lot of stories, as it always has, but this year it feels different because for the first time I think that viewers are really clearly feeling the stakes.  We know the major characters, we know the major trajectory.  There are zombies to the north and dragons to the east, and a lot of political intrigue in between.  What’s been nice about this season too is that we’ve gotten lots of great character moments, even in the midst of so many stories.  The storytelling has often been fractured though, but what “Second Sons” did a great job with was actually giving us time to pause and really embrace the plots and characters this week — no Jon, no Robb, no Bran, no Jaime and Brienne and no Theon meant lots of time to spend with the others, especially because so many of them for once shared the same screen.  Hit the jump for more on why your brother is now your father-in-law (it is known).

game-of-thrones-season-3-tyrion-posterGame of Thrones has always been about trust, and this week saw the featured characters changing alliances to stay alive.  Most of them also happened to be exceptionally unpalatable to those in them.  Arya spent the last two seasons cursing the Hound’s name, and now rides with him to preserve her own life.  The only thing she hates more than the Hound is being away from her family, and he has promised to take her to the Twins to meet up with her mother and brother and protect her while doing so, in the name of gold.  Here, Arya makes the choice to put aside the past and allow the Hound lead her where she needs to go.

Dany has vowed to destroy Yunkai if the slaves are not freed, and considers being in cahoots with a vile man, Mero, the “Titan’s Bastard” and captain of the Second Sons, to achieve it.  The scene was a more drawn out one than Arya’s, but what we got out of it was similar: I will bite back my disgust with you for now to get what I need, but once I do, all bets are off.  Dany tells Barristan to kill Mero first when battle breaks out, just like Arya tells the Hound (next week) that she will put a sword through his eye.

Dany’s desire to see Mero wiped off the face of the Earth happened sooner than she could have imagined, when the handsome and cocksure Daario does the deed for his own means.  Dany seems willing to trust him, because what choice does she have?  But his motivations are shallow, and he’s willing to kill his captains over a disagreement … not good signs.  But she’s blinded by her desire for power, much like her brother.

game-of-thrones-second-sons-peter-dinklage“Second Sons” was also a particularly talky episode, something that can sometimes make the show drag (in the past I’ve praised it particularly for when it literally “shows” and doesn’t tell), but in this case, the series handled it pretty well.  The verbal sparring and quips from Dany, Tyrion, even Tywin laying down the law were great moments that enriched the characters in ways that we haven’t gotten a lot of in prior weeks, when there are 10 stories told within the hour, and everyone gets one or two lines.

The only scene where this failed was with Melisandre, Gendry and the leeches.  Gendry, if you had any idea what Theon or pretty much anyone else in Westeros was going through right now in terms of torture, you would welcome those leeches (except maybe the one on your dingaling).   Dragonstone has largely been a drag, save for Davos learning to read (one of the best small moments of the season so far), with Mel rarely having a monologue without it becoming sexposition.  In fact, this episode almost single-handedly made up for the lack of nudity, particularly female, in the last few weeks.

game-of-thrones-second-sons-charles-dance-peter-dinklageThe main thrust of the episode though came with the wedding of Tyrion and Sansa, every moment of which was brilliant and excruciating.  Though we didn’t get anything particularly new from it (Joffery is still a heinous little shit, Tywin is a badass enforcer, Sansa is powerless, Tyrion is a gentleman when it comes down to it, Cersei is miserable and the Tyrells are cautiously jovial), the way it played out was great.  Most of the characters have had side conversations together throughout the season, whispering in hallways and in gardens, planning and scheming.  But for once they all came together and shared a screen for the union of two of the purest souls among them.  Neither Sansa nor Tyrion desire the alliance and union, but in the end it’s truly not a bad match.

Finally: The Game of Thrones series has kept the White Walkers in the forefront much more so than the book, and jiggled the timeline with Sam and the dragon glass, though it had great effect here.  When all is said and done, the happenings in King’s Landing and the magic potions on Dragonstone seem petty and small compared to what lies beyond the wall.  And Winter is Coming.

Episode Rating: B+

Musings and Miscellanea:

– I liked this episode, but some of the talky scenes dragged, particularly among the Second Sons and at Dragonstone.

– Though Sansa doesn’t know Tyrion as we do, I like that she made an effort.  Tyrion, too.  Even Shae was happy in the end.  So clearly something bad is about to happen.

– Such a sad wedding full of miserable people.

game-of-thrones-second-sons-emilia-clarke– Another thing I really liked about the short Arya and Hound scene is an illustration of how slow news travels in Westeros.  Arya had no idea that Edmure was going to the Twins because her brother was married, etc.

– Ahh, the Rains of Castermere … watch out, Tyrells.  Tywin Lannister is not easily bested.

– Also watch out, Robb, Balon and Joff.  The Red Lady has put a blood curse on you …

– The Queen of Thorns explaining the new family tree after the upcoming weddings was hilarious.  That’s the first time I’ve seen Margaery look genuinely pissed.

– I loved the baby naming scene just for Sam’s face when she said “Craster.”  But the crows were terrifying.

– If you want to chat Thrones or any TV, you can find me @keeneTV on Twitter.

– Programming Note: No Thrones next week, HBO will be airing the Liberace movie.




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  • Lizard King

    Great recap. I loved the episode and how much it propelled stories along compared to the last few weeks. Tyrion’s drunken outburst toward Joffrey was easily his best moment of the season. I am always a bit cautious and ready to avert my eyes when reading your recaps knowing that you have read the books. But you do a nice job of applying your book knowledge without actually giving spoilers.

    • Allison Keene

      Thanks! It’s been a little hard, and I appreciate everyone being patient as I figure out the balance

  • Grayden

    Seriously wondering what the penultimate episode is going to have in it. It’s titled “Rains of Castamere” so it’s quite obvious something terrible is going to happen. There are a few VERY dramatic moments in Storm of Swords, and there’s been only some minor references to them in the show, but nothing in the way of any indication we’re going to get those scenes, so it just leaves me wondering which one it will be, if any, or if they’re saving them for next season. As an aside, Cersei’s retelling of the meaning behind the “Rains of Castamere” song to Margaery wasn’t nearly as chilling as it could have been, or should have been. I think it’s the first time this season I was let down.

    • Archie

      Here’s a hint if you are seriously wondering. Its the one where the “Rains of Castamere” song has a significant role to play. Also, I think Cersei’s retelling of the story was for audience’s benefit, so that we’d be able to understand its contextual significance in the next episode.

      • Grayden

        Yeah, I know, but still. We’ve already heard the song, during the credits of “Blackwater” I believe, but it’s still just one of the moments in the history of the land that makes you think, “Damn, clearly these are not the people you &^$* around with”, and it’s just told as a mildly cautionary tale, a warning, when it should have felt like an absolute threat. I didn’t feel the threat from Cersei because by this point we’re seeing her power wain to the point where she basically has none. Queen Regent she may be, but she has no real power anymore.

        I dunno, it’s just my opinion, but they didn’t really sell it. Especially if the wedding I think is going to occur does happen in “Rains of Castamere”, the weight of the events aren’t really going to be felt as much as they could because of other details left out from the books as well. The focus hasn’t been put on that story like it should have been this season,and to end with that wedding and have the emotional payoff many probably want is going to be lessened. Honestly, the other wedding would have a much greater impact at this point.

    • chris

      it’s obviously going to be another wedding. think about it. when the song plays………..another sad dau in Westeros. Cant wait for the wedding next season!

  • Jones

    Melisandre wanted to sacrfice Gendry, but was stopped by Stannis and Davos. I really liked that change of plans, so he didn’t have to die yet. But she still “cursed” Joffrey, Robb, and Balon. But this isn’t the same curse, is it? Cause this isn’t what she did with Stannis, or did i miss anything? :)
    Looking forward to seeing a new spell/curse. Or if she did indeed cursed anyone, because she was interrupted halfway through.

    • Robert

      huh?

      • Jones

        Gendry didn’t die, did he? :)

    • Allison Keene

      Yeah, she kind of referenced a “shadow baby” again, and I wondered where that was going when she got on top of him … but then the leeches were a nice, weird twist. interested to see where the show goes with it next.

  • Obi

    Made up for the lack of female nudity?? But you seemed to enjoy the terrible episode with pod and the whores a few weeks back.
    Anyway, I think this episode was far better than the last one which you miraculously gave an A or A- or something, but each to their own. In fact I think this as one of the better and more interesting episodes that for once actually moved the plot forward unlike the last 3 or 4 episodes.
    Although my greatest bone of contension is still how poorly they have handled Robb’s story, which is the most important story of this season. I can understand how they didn’t have any time for him in this episode but I feel that episode 9 is going to have faaar less impact than D & D imagined due to their bungling up Robb’s arc.

    • Allison Keene

      I was kinda joking about the female nudity, hah. It seemed like they just threw in ALL THE BOOBS! in this episode like “oh man, no one’s been naked for awhile!” And the nudity wasn’t the thing in Pod scene for me, I just loved that unassuming Pod was apparently a sex god.

      I totally agree with you though about Robb, though. They’ve tried to turn it around a little bit in his last few appearances but … I just can’t imagine the emotional weight of what happened in the books will play out here, which is a shame. but we’ll see!

      • http://www.facebook.com/prathap.kutty Prathap Kutty

        and i thought Emilia Clarke wont be going nude again…

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  • RunnerX13

    This was a great episode, mostly because we focused in the main and important stories.

  • RunnerX13

    Oh, and please stop with the book talk and bringing up things we do not yet know!

  • Jim

    Any episode when The Red Lady gets naked automatically goes up a full letter grade.

  • ReturnOfTheGeek

    I’m hoping that we get to see the revenge taken upon the Frey’s at the ‘Red Wedding’ from A STORM OF SWORDS.

  • -

    Dear Academy,
    Please award Peter Dinklage with all the Emmys, ever.
    Sincerely, the world.

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