This episode opens with Riverrun, Hoster Tully’s dead body, and Edmure Tully’s failure at, well, basically everything. I was happy to see Robb get to actually act like a king and show that he really is good at strategy and war. One of the bad things about not getting to actually see many battles on screen in this show is that they have to find some other way to communicate this sort of information, and the scene with Robb, Edmure, and the Blackfish works well to establish Robb’s competence as a military leader.
It’s also a nice change to see Robb without Talisa, who I think is one of the biggest mistakes the showrunners have made because the Robb/Talisa relationship undermines the more sympathetic portrayal of Robb in the books. Show!Robb is in desperate need of something to make us feel bad for him, and his anger with Edmure’s ruining of his plans helps with that. It’s a mistake that isn’t Robb’s fault, and Robb’s frustration with his inability to control everything is relatable in a way that his stupid, selfish, callously oath-breaking marriage to Talisa isn’t.
The small council meeting is mildly amusing, and I laughed out loud at Varys’s face while he was watching Cersei’s and Tyrion’s shenanigans. Cersei and Tyrion, however, come off as childish and petty in this scene, and I thought it was a little over the top.
“The Bear and the Maiden Fair”! I love when they include songs from literature in film adaptations. It adds flavor to the world we’re watching. We can’t really get all the folk tales and stuff that George R.R. Martin includes in his books, but including songs is easier than including people telling stories, and it makes me happy.
Jaime, Brienne really was beating you.
Jaime’s warning to Brienne about her impending rape is basically straight out of the book, and it’s kind of heartbreaking. A big part of Brienne’s journey and her growth as a character is her ongoing process of realising just how naive she is. I don’t believe that it didn’t occur to her that she might be raped, but on some level she trusts Jaime and to hear his warning is pretty devastating to her. His advice to her to not fight, to “close your eyes and pretend it’s Renly,” is, I think, well-meant, but Brienne knows that it’s not that simple and forces Jaime to admit that if he were a woman he’d make them kill him.
Awww. Hot Pie. This turned out to be my favorite scene of this episode. I hope that Hot Pie has a nice life, and it’s nice to see something good happening to someone in this series. His gift to Arya was sweet, and I had tears in my eyes as Arya and Gendry rode away from their friend.
Back at Riverrun, we get Catelyn and the Blackfish talking. Honestly, the best things about this scene are the Tully armor (it looks like fish scales!) and the gorgeous view from the window they’re sitting in front of.
Talisa is still looking distinctly un-regal as she patches up the two Lannister boys that Edmure captured. You’d think that by this point she’d be making at least some effort to look and act like a queen, but nope. Also, these are beautiful children and I don’t think things are going to end well for them. Sorry, Lannister babies, but I’ve read the book.
Holy shit, dead horse art!
They’re moving Jon’s storyline with the Wildlings along at a pretty good clip this season, which I think is good. I’m a little bummed that we haven’t gotten to meet Varamyr Sixskins, but I think they’re just going to stick with Orell at this point. I’m curious to see whether we get one or two battles at the Wall this season. I was thinking it would probably just be one, but I think I might be pleasantly surprised. It’s also making me think that we could be seeing material from A Dance With Dragons in season 4, which makes me really hope that another book will be coming out soon. If they keep up at this pace on the show, we could definitely be through the end of ADWD by the end of season 5.
Craster’s Keep already? But no Sam the Slayer, yet? Sam gets to see the miracle of birth, but I’m starting to wonder what’s going on with this storyline, to be honest. There haven’t been any huge changes, really, but all the little changes are adding up and I’m not really sure why they are skipping some things.
Poor Theon. Also, dude, there is NO WAY that this isn’t a trap. Do not trust this pasty guy.
Stannis is being so creepy that Melisandre almost comes out of this scene looking normal, but then she starts talking about sacrificing people.
Jorah and Barristan are arguing and trying to ingratiate themselves to Daenerys, but she actually has somewhat different ideas than both of them.
Yeah, Kraznys, Daenerys is going to “give” you a dragon. I hope that works out for you.
I hope we get to see a lot more of Missandei since they killed off the rest of Dany’s handmaidens. Also, Missandei’s little smile when Dany said “but we are not men” is one of my favorite moments of the episode.
Tyrion is trying to figure out what Littlefinger has done with the finances of the kingdom. Mostly, he’s put the crown in a ridiculous amount of debt, especially to the Iron Bank of Braavos. I’m glad that we are seeing this come up early in the season, as it’s important to know for future events.
Podrick’s reward is a ridiculous scene. I love Podrick, and I want good things to happen to him, but the introduction of the girls was absurd and the “Podrick is a sex god” thing was funny but unnecessary. I guess I understand having some comic relief in such an otherwise serious/horrifying episode, but still.
Oh, Theon, I told you so. This is the first of back-to-back attempted rape scenes, and it’s suitably horrifying. I’ve seen it compared to a similar scene in Deliverance, and there are similarities, but I hope that I don’t see people joking about this scene the way some people do about the movie scene.
I really hope Iwan Rheon turns out to be Ramsay Snow. I don’t know what else could be going on here except that Ramsay is playing some sick game with Theon, and I will be horribly disappointed if that doesn’t turn out to be the case.
I am so incredibly glad that we don’t get to see what is happening to Brienne in the second attempted rape scene of this episode. The sound of her screaming and fighting is more viscerally disturbing than anything that they could have shown us, and it avoids giving viewers any chance to eroticize what is happening to her. Brienne’s shell-shocked look and her silence when we see her again further confirms that this is a traumatic experience, even for someone as physically strong and capable as she is.
The last three minutes or so of the episode are excellently done. Jaime’s happy (or at least smug) to have been able to rescue Brienne, and he’s feeling invincible, but he should have just stopped talking while he was ahead.