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Game of Thrones – Walk of Punishment

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GameNo good deed goes unpunished on Game of Thrones. From battlefields to brothels, favors are traded even if the cost isn’t always immediate. Or, in Jaime’s case, very immediate.

There were three short “check-in” plots this week, so let’s take care of those first. Arya and her companions are still with the Brotherhood Without Banners, but they know who she is now. Hot Pie decides to stay on at the inn as a cook, and makes Arya a breadwolf. Arya and Gundry head out with the Brotherhood.

Theon is set free from Ramsay Snow’s torture by the mystery man, and rides off on a horse. He’s stalked and captured by Ramsay, who prepares to rape him when mystery man reappears and arrows Ramsay’s whole squad to death. This is happening so differently and so out of order of the events in the novels that I have no clue where this plot is going, which is kind of cool.

Melisandre is leaving on a mysterious journey of some kind, but Stannis doesn’t want her to go. Stannis talks about wanting to be king, but he has a certain look in his eyes. My notes actually put it rather succinctly: “Stannis wants many things. Stannis wants one thing.” He’s basically super horny for Melisandre. She gives him that long-suffering look and tells him, “Your fires are burning low, my king.” Ouch.

Robb and Catelyn are attending Cat’s father’s funeral. Cat’s younger brother (and heir to Riverrun) Edmure Tully displays his incompetence by failing to light Hoster Tully’s funeral boat with a flaming arrow, forcing Brynden Tully, the Blackfish, to do it. But Edmure’s idiocy is much more damaging. He attacked Gregor Clegane’s forces against orders, driving him off instead of drawing Clegane into the west as Robb Stark wanted. His capture of a mill and two random distant Lannister kids only makes Robb angrier. The war goes poorly for the northmen.

Things aren’t going that well back at King’s Landing either. The war has been financed by Lannister gold and loans from the Iron Bank, and with both an ostentatious royal wedding and winter looming, there’s little chance that abundance will refill the coffers. To make things worse, the city’s masterful master of coins, Peter Baelish, is leaving to claim his new titles and castles. Tywin assigns the job to Tyrion at a hilarious small council meeting punctuated by Cersei and Tyrion rearranging the chairs.

Baelish hands over the city’s financial ledgers to Tyrion, and it turns out he’s hid them at the brothel, which might seem like a lucky thing except that Tyrion is forbidden to go there. It does give Podrick (and us) a chance to look down Ros’ blouse.

Then Tyrion rewards Podrick for his service in saving his life at the Battle of Blackwater by setting him up with three prostitutes, and holy hell their introduction was the finest two or so minutes of televisual nakedness I think I’ve ever seen. Those girls were gorgeous. When Podrick returns, he still has the money, because as it turns out, he pleasured the whores so delightfully they declined payment. This leads Tyrion to pull up a chair. “We’re going to need details. Copious details.”

One of the biggest challenges Game of Thrones faces is finding room to breathe. Scenes like this are so crucial to making the characters seem like more than cogs in the plot machine. This was fantastic. There were a few really memorable scenes in this week’s episode, and one of them was definitely the “Podrick is the biggest stud in the seven kingdoms” scene.

North of the wall, Jon Snow and the wildlings reach the Fist and find evidence of the white walkers. “Always the artists,” Mance Rayder says, and the camera pans out to reveal the carefully butchered corpses of horses precisely arranged in a giant spiral. It was a chilling scene, far more than just random slaughter. It hints at some kind of alien intelligence in the white walkers, some weird purpose other than simple hunger driving them. That makes them infinitely more scary.

There are no human corpses, which means either the Black Brothers escaped or all became white walkers. We learn it’s the former, as they shuffle back to Craster’s lodge, where Samwell’s sort of girlfriend gives birth to a baby boy (and we know what happens to those). Although Craster acts like his usual arrogant self, for a moment there he looked on the grim faces of the brothers and felt fear. They seem far less inclined to put up with Craster’s obscenity.

Far to the south, Danaerys ‘ growing compassion for slaves complicates her decision to purchase the Unsullied. The debate seems to be: do you want incredibly efficient slaves, or incredibly loyal troops who love you? Since she decides to buy the Unsullied, yet we know she abhors slavery, it’s safe to say (and isn’t a spoiler) that Dany doesn’t see why she has to choose only one or the other.

She seems to have little negotiating power, as Kraznys reminds her while continually insulting her in his own language. But Danaerys offers him a dragon, an amazing prize. With it, she receives all 8,000 Unsullied, all the young boys currently in training to become Unsullied, and Kraznys’s slave assistant Missandei. At this demand, Kraznys seems to have developed some respect for Dany.

Now, Danaerys controls a large force of the finest warriors in the world, plus her three dragons. She acts honorably with those she respects, but we know she despises slavers in absolute terms. I mean, look, if someone breaks into your home and you trade them your shotgun for $100, one of you is going to walk out of there with $100 and a shotgun.

Finally, Brienne and Jamie have been captured by one of Roose Bolton’s men. So, there was no dramatic battle on the bridge. The two of them have a disturbing discussion about the probability of Brienne being raped repeatedly in camp, and Jaime offers the abhorrent old “just let it happen.” It may seem like practical advice in terms of simply staying alive, but Brienne’s reaction is to fight to the last and hurt them as much as possible. And once you see it, you realize no one could react any other way, and to suggest “not fighting it” is simply revolting.

But Jaime takes a hero turn when Brienne’s rape seems imminent, convincing Hoat of her value as a captive (an unraped captive). For a moment it seems like Jaime’s honeyed tongue will earn him a more comfortable resting place and perhaps a meal. But the captor hates Jaime, his wealth, his privilege, and especially how he invokes his father constantly. That earns Jaime an amputation. Now the greatest swordsman in the seven kingdoms has lost his sword hand.

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Posted by on Sunday, April 14th, 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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