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Game of Thrones – And Now His Watch is Ended

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Game of Thrones, And Now His Watch is EndedThis week’s Game of Thrones was full of comeuppance, as tyrants were humbled (or killed) and we got one of the best, most epic moments of the series so far.

This episode was mostly split between King’s Landing and Craster’s Keep north of the Wall, with a few stops here and there. One stop was a brief and seemingly pointless visit with Bran and Jojen and a three-eyed crow. Yup, Bran has weird psychic dreams and the crow has some kind of mystic significance. We understand.

We check in with Theon as well, and it seems his rescue has not turned out so well. His mystery rescuer may, in fact, by Ramsay Snow himself, masquerading and even killing off his own men to make Theon’s torture that much more brutal. Along the way, Theon declares his regret at murdering children and even decides he’s truly a Stark and not a Greyjoy after all. Lot of good it will do him tied to that cross. I think I understand what’s happening here, as far as why things are so different from the novel – without spoiling anything, let’s just say that in the books, Theon goes away for a bit, and when he reappears, he’s…different. Apparently we’re going to get a closer look at what happens in between.

Jamie is being terribly abused by Bolton’s troops, made to wear his own severed hand on a lanyard. He gives up and decides to die. Brienne mocks him for being so weak and pathetic, and for failing to understand that most people have something important taken from them in their lives when they’re not incredibly rich. Jamie has shown that there’s some good in him, but it’s hard to tell if losing his hand will make him a humble man or drive him to vengeance.

Arya and the Hound are lead to the Brotherhood Without Banners’ secret cave hideout (with their heads covered – practical and a bit of a callout the Lord of the Rings, when the Fellowship must be hooded before the elves will lead them into Lórien). There they meet the Brotherhood’s leader, Beric Dondarrion, a former lord who has turned to guerilla warfare with the Brotherhood. Arya calls out the Hound for having murdered her friend long ago in season one. For the charge of murder, Dondarrion sentences Sandor Clegane to trial by combat against Dondarrion himself. What’s interesting here is that Dondarrion appears to have embraced the Lord of Light, just like Melisandre. House Dondarrion didn’t play a role in last season’s war – why didn’t they declare for Stannis? Perhaps because Beric was busy hunting Cleganes.

North of the Wall, we get some quality time with the Black Brothers (but not Jon Snow and the Wildlings). Apparently a fair amount of time has passed since the brothers arrived at Craster’s Keep, since starvation (and shoveling) has become a serious concern. The best parts of these scenes were the sardonic humor some of the brothers use to deal with the hardships they face. When one of their friends starves to death, his funeral pyre elicits the line, “I never knew he could smell so good.” It’s not only darkly hilarious, it also suggests how terribly hungry these men are.

So hungry, in fact, that some of them, not so adept at redirecting their bitterness, rise up and challenge Craster, accusing him of hiding food from them. Craster ends up murdered, no surprise there. But so does Lord Commander Mormont, which was maybe a bit more startling. In the chaos, Samwell flees with Gilly and her newborn son.

There’s little action in King’s Landing, but plenty of intrigue. For the most part, we’ve got Varys and the Tyrells weaving webs that become entwined. But first, Cersei presses her father for a greater role in Lannister affairs. Tywin cuts her down almost as brutally as he did to Tyrion, telling her, “I don’t distrust you because you’re a woman, I distrust you because you’re not as intelligent as you think you are.” He also rakes her over the coals for her inability to control Joffrey. She suggests that Tywin should, “Prevent him from doing what he enjoys,” to which Tywin responds, “I will.” That sounds ominous.

Meanwhile, we get a firsthand look at Joffrey’s creeping insanity. He giggles creepily when describing the atrocities of the past to Margaery and in general seems to adore depraved violence. Margaery plays him like a harp, because he’s also simpleminded. Incest, man. It’s not good.

Varys, though, is worried about Sansa Stark. I mean, not worried worried, but interested in her as a useful piece in the Game of Thrones. Everyone at King’s Landing seems to assume that Robb Stark will eventually be killed in battle, which means that whoever marries Sansa will have a powerful claim to control of the north. Varys doesn’t want Littlefinger, who’s consolidating his power by marrying Lisa Arryn (nee Tully, Catelyn’s sister), to control Sansa as well. As Varys puts it, Baelish is the most dangerous man in Westeros, one who’d “Burn down this kingdom to rule over the ashes.”

We also get a glimpse into Varys’ past, as he shows Tyrion how a long con really works. He tells the story of the sorcerer who snipped off his man-parts when he was a child, then reveals that he’s found the bastard and keeps him in a box, possibly with his mouth sewn shut.

He’s getting his info from Ros, by the way, who seems to have graduated to full “real character who doesn’t have to show her boobs anymore.” While I love seeing Ros, and her wonderfully expressive face makes her well-suited for a larger role, there’s a weird sort of misogyny going on here. Notice how many terrible things happened to Ros when she was a whore, but things seem to go much more smoothly for her now that it’s her “former” profession.

They also references Podrick’s legendary tumble with the three whores from last week – Game of Thrones, it was a good gag. Don’t run it into the ground.

To prevent Littlefinger’s Sansa power play, Varys goes to Olenna Redwyne, Margaery’s grandmother, who again entertains us with her dry sarcasm, belittling some young Tyrell girls for incessantly embroidering golden roses, and even mocking House Tyrell’s emblem and motto. Then she makes Varys appear uncomfortable for possibly the first time in three seasons. She grasps the Sansa problem quickly and confidently tells Varys she has a solution.

Off camera, she puts her plan in motion. We see the wheels begin to turn when Margaery approaches Sansa, charmingly befriends her, and suggests that heading to Dorne to marry into House Tyrell is a far better option than traveling with Petyr Baelish. Sansa seems to agree.

All this would have made for a fine episode, but they saved the best for last. Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, offers no quarter to slavers. I don’t entirely understand how the slavers of Astapor could be so stupid, but they traded their awesome army of superslaves for a dragon they can’t control. And it turns out they don’t have a backup army hanging around. So it went something like this: “Ok cool, here’s your army of superslaves. Run along and conquer some cities.”

“Sure! I think I’ll start with this one.”

We’ve been waiting for three weeks for Dany to reveal that she speaks the slavers’ language (Valyrian), and it was ten times as awesome as I expected. When she turns and orders the Unsullied to attack their masters, it was freaking epic and amazing. She sounded so bad ass. One of the ongoing themes in A Song of Ice & Fire is, why do all these people follow Daenerys, why are they so loyal to her? What do they see in her? And hearing her belt out those lines, I was ready to throw myself at her feet.

Consider how much she has changed in three seasons, from a meek, unsure and subservient pawn traded into a marriage with barbarians by her brother, to this: A queen. A warlord. A savior.

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Posted by on Sunday, April 21st, 2013. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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