Our lives have been a touch on the busy side of late, but we didn't outright abandon our Game of Thrones coverage. With the season rapidly drawing to a close and the heat rising all over Westeros, let's catch us all up, shall we?
Scout At the risk of you not having seen "The Walk of Punishment" yet, allow me to just say that the thing that happens six seconds before the episode ends, I knew that that was going to fuckin' happen and I'm no less angry about it.
Fox Oh jesus I know. Jamie losing his sword hand is devastating. Just when we were all starting to like him so much! But as GoT teaches us time and time again, nothing can ever go right. Ever. "Walk of Punishment" was a hysterical episode though. One of the show's creators directed it and he did so with attitude. I was laughing my ass off through the failed attempts to set the funeral boat aflame and Tyrion's chair drag. Good lord.
Scout Those two scenes, one after the other, are probably the greatest sustained laughs in the whole series. Jamie losing his hand is proof of something the show does actually follow through on a fair amount: if you don't live up to your potential and do the horrible thing that will save your life, you will lose the ability to do so. It's why Arya's still alive and why Tyrion had to tumble back down the latter to nothing. Bronn and The Hound are great examples of the middle ground - they've been all about self-preservation, which mean that they'll stay roughly exactly where they are. After Blackwater Bay, Bronn vanishes to go have fun, and is rewarded by having his position intact when he returns. The Hound flees, but he offers to take Sansa with him, so for that he is captured and embarrassed, with Arya there to remind him what he did wrong.
Fox "And Now His Watch Has Ended" is the prime example of GoT at it's best. I loved Melisandre this episode. I've always had a weird creepy love for her character but this was the first time I've ever seen her act like a rational human being and I'm always for watching Stannis get shut down. I'm glad they spent some time on Rob's plight as well. Cat's monologue about her father was beautiful and tragic but the real horror this episode is how screwed Rob is.
Scout How screwed everyone is. Those fellas by the wall have their work cut out for them. Pitched as opposition to the forces north of the wall, they seem even more pathetic. Everybody's spread thin, but others know how to stay together.
Scout Well with "Kissed By Fire" we're finally in murderland, and the show gains enough momentum for a whole season.
Fox I'll start with the obvious. What an ending! Dany finally earns herself a clear chapter in the book of badassery. She speaks Valyrian?! What?! That's right! And now you're all dead. Truly awesome stuff. It was actually a wonderful choice to handle Dany's knowledge of the language the way they did. In the novel you're aware that she speaks Valyrian right from the get-go. I honestly thought they were going to abandon her knowing it since they got so far into the season without even hinting at it. And having her purchase the translator was the most convincing bit of all.
We had it all though this episode. Varys was all over the episode, which I'm an enormous fan of. I love most of the characters on this show but Varys is so goddamn watchable. And he's got a dude in a box. We had Diana Rigg kicking major ass again which is a complete treat. We had Craster and Commander Mormont bite the dust which I Totally forgot happened. We've got Charles Dance saying "contribute" to Cersei with enough bite that it hurt to hear it.
And we've got Beric fucking Dondarrion challenging The Hound to trial by combat. I'm really interested to see what we learn about Beric in the show. By this point he's a fairly poignant character in the novels but this is the first we've seen of him. I want all I can get.
Fox "The Climb" continues this season's trend of amazing television
Scout Holy Fuck it's good TV
Fox The scene with Tywin and Lady Olenna was ridiculous. They need their own buddy cop movie.
Scout Well what's awesome is the how recognizing age and personalities and how differently everyone reacts to the same thing. Tywin recognizes that Olenna is used to getting her way but he's still essentially Dick Cheney and won't play games.
Fox Emily made an awesome point tonight about Beric Dondarrion possibly being the true soldier of Light. I never thought about it before but watching Melisandre's confidence for basically the first time ever is awesome.
Scout I love the drunkard priest the more I learn about him. The only thing that needles me slightly is the overwhelming use of magic this episode. I confess to hating Jojen seeing Jon Snow in a dream. That kind of shit is unnecessary. We know where Jon Snow is and Reed seeing that felt like lazy writing, and magic for the sake of magic.
Fox I can get behind that. Bran is trying to get to Jon so knowing him his wherabouts would definitely bolster his confidence but they're already going to the Wall. It's not like he has no clue where to look for him.
Scout To coin a phrase, let's talk about real shit. There's a running joke in my family. My sisters and I were once reading one of the Harry Potter books at a different pace. When asked not to spoil the next chapter of one of the books, I jokingly told my little sister that Snape Marries Hermione. That's been shorthand for me ever since for things that just can't happen if a fanbase is to be kept from rioting. If in season 1 of Game of Thrones you'd have asked me for a "Snape marries Hermione" I couldn't have done much better than "Tyrion marries Sansa." And yet, here. It. Fucking. Is. The concept, introduced a few episodes before the event, is so ridiculous that I assumed something would happen to prevent it, or they'd just prep it all season and leave its possibility on a cliffhanger. And then they up and did it. It's over, it happened, and Tyrion has the hangover to prove it.
And there we have the essence of season 3: the inescapable lurching towards the impossible, until suddenly it's reality and we can only deal with it. The Hound survives and wins a trial by combat, but so does his opponent. The only satisfactory outcome when you have two unstoppable forces like The Hound and Beric Dondarrion fighting each other. Having these guys floating around Westeros gives the show character even if they're offscreen. Magic has crept in in the form of a drunken priest who delivers blessings with life restoring powers to a man he loves more than himself. Jon Snow climbed the wall. JON SNOW CLIMBED THE WALL, made that impossibly gorgeous redhead fall for him by just being his big dumb self, and even confessed, in part about his true motivation, and she still loves him. The Hound came through for Arya, making her believe in forgiveness, getting her a real step closer to safety, and proving that The Hound is human. Dany has steadily growing dragons and an army and soon she'll have her ships. Davos talked his way out of jail and learned to goddamn read. Jamie managed to not only get Brienne to come around to him, but saves her from rape and murder and clearly will not go anywhere without her safety assured first. He got his privileged upper hand back (even though he lost his sword hand) and the first thing he did with it was save a woman's life. Sam proved he's a kind of hero after all.
And the season isn't over yet.
All of that is eminently worth talking over (obsessing over, in our case) but the thing I want to focus on is Tyrion marrying Sansa. You feel bad for her. How could you not? But the more you think about it, the more you see that it is legitimately the safest option open to the poor girl. Tyrion isn't a sexless sadist creep like his nephew, he doesn't find the thought of sex with her completely repulsive like Loras Tyrell, won't assault her like so many other people in court. Tyrion not only respects her will, but has had sex with enough women to know that 14 is too young, that a girl is not a woman and should not have that imposed on her to please men in power. And furthermore, he's still in love. Also, we get to hear him say "If my father wants someone to get fucked, I know where he can start." Which is my kind of writing.
Joffrey going out of his way to be a dick to Tyrion on his wedding day takes us back to Season 1 Episode 2, when he slapped the little shit for being who he is. Who he can't help but be. And this whole time, for his whoring, his drinking, his sarcasm, his cruelty to the ignorant, Tyrion has always been a good man. Maybe the best man in the realm. And certainly the show's beating heart, so it's wise to let us spend time in his company so long during his wedding. When Joffrey takes his prodding too far, Tyrion grabs a knife, sticks in the table and shouts "Then you'll be fucking your own bride with a wooden cock." At which point I had fond flashbacks to Season 1 and the reason I fell in love with this world in the first place. Being strong is one thing, but surrounded by ceremony, by men with swords paid to keep the worst among you safe from harm, your wit and words are your greatest weapon. The feud between Tyrion and Joffrey will be one of their undoing. I can just feel it. And the writers make us feel what it's like to be consumed by an unwelcome hatred. They also make us fear. Who will kill who? How is Cersei going to react to Brienne? How is Tywin going to take Tyrion's refusal to impregnate Sansa and save King's Landing from annihilation from the Starks? Tyrion's quoting the Night's Watch oath filled my heart with such admiration I could barely lift my chest when the episode finished. That this was the episode where Arya rides side saddle on the Hound's horse, looking ridiculously small and adorable next to the big burned-up troll of a knight didn't help.
What worries me is that now that we know where everyone stands, how good everyone is beneath the bluster and responsibility, who deserves to be called a hero in a world where that word means almost nothing, is how cruelly the show will treat these people. The Hound could only die protecting someone, but something tells me that he will have to die, and this saddens me greatly. Something bad seems guaranteed to befall these great men and women. They will bear it, because they must, but I don't want them to have to. I want to change the destiny of these characters that drama demands bury them. And that is how you make a good fucking hour of television.
Fox "Second Sons" is in an episode conveniently located in the calm before the storm (of swords, hehehe). It takes the time to patiently and methodically move the final pieces. But to what end? In the past two years, the 9th episode has been the season’s climax and in both seasons we had a pretty good idea as viewers what’d be happening. Ned’s execution was our deepest fear but judging the world we’d been living in for the last eight hours of runtime had us believing in the darkest parts of our minds that he wasn’t long for this world. Almost all of season two is a lead up to The Battle of Blackwater Bay. We watched every would-be king move their forces further south to King’s Landing not fully knowing who’d be the first to rap on the Lannister’s chamber door but knowing full well that Joffrey’s throne would be directly challenged. We watched Tyrion court a strange man of science to get his hands on the city’s saving grace: Wild Fire. And we weren’t disappointed.
Critics and audiences have been at Second Sons’ throat calling it disjointed and not the episode they were hoping for. I couldn’t disagree more. Many of the loudest detractors are readers of the novels and knowing what we’re going to see in the next installment may make Second Sons appear slow or a waste of everyone’s time. I just think these folks aren’t looking at the bigger picture. And that picture is huge.
For those reading every single clue the writers have dropped this season. For those who’ve counted and catalogued every glance, nod, and wink of every character who’s in a position of power, they’ve still got a mess on their hands. If season 3 has told us anything its that those seemingly without power can change the course of history. This really does shows just how far the series has come. In the beginning this was a show about powerful families waging a war of words and occasionally weapons. But seeing Jon Snow journey over The Wall and back again, seeing Dany go from a submissive that demands our sympathy to a self made queen that demands our awe, seeing Samwell defend a woman he loves from not only an attacker but a demon, seeing Theon actually garner sympathy from an audience that detests him, seeing Jaime lose his pride but reclaim his honor by saving a woman he’s finally found a true bond with, seeing Catelyn finally admit that she’s mistreated a son who can carry a sword but in the end was still just a boy, seeing The Hound continue to prove that despite his scarred appearance he’s a human being underneath it all, seeing Arya who’s done nothing but repeat her oath of revenge wind up riding on the lap of one of her intended, seeing Robb wheel and deal in a way that begins to rival the Lannisters only to build up his forces to continue fighting a war the rest of the world seems to have forgotten about, seeing Cersei move from a comfortable life long position of power to taking the backseat to her father’s plans for world domination, and finally in tandem, seeing Tyrion’s wit and charm finally lose all its power and leave him under his father’s bootheel. All of these things have shown characters grow in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined in the show’s early stages. But more importantly, they show that if you aren’t on the inside track, how on earth could you possibly predict what’s going to happen next? Any one of these characters could be in a position of imminent success or imminent danger. Knowing Game of Thrones, its probably the latter. But who? This season has left us staring true chaos in the face and all we can do is plead that they don’t take our favorites. The problem is, like you mentioned above, they’re all my favorites. Everyone is written beautifully. Even characters I despise with every inch of my being are essential to my viewing experience. I’m fearing for my own life here.
There’s a brief exchange at Tyrion’s wedding where Cersei tells Margaery about the story behind "The Rains of Castamere", a bard’s song written to tell the story of how The Lannisters destroyed the lord and people of the once great hall. Cersei uses it to get her claws into Margaery. A feeble attempt after watching Marge whip Cersei back and forth the last seven episodes with a smile on her face all the while. But "Rains of Castamere" is much for important in the GoT world than simply to instill momentary fear. It’s a song sung by characters both high and low. It’s a legend everyone knows. It was used as the closing credits to "Blackwater". It’s been used throughout the last two seasons as theme music, most notably as when Jaime pulls Brienne from the bear pit. It’s a song of foreboding. It’s a song that truly seems to ring the bells of doom.
And it’s the title to the next episode…