This show is just getting better and better every week this season. “Kissed by Fire” has some of my favorite scenes for Arya and Jaime, and it advances some important plot lines.
**Spoilers under the cut.**
The fight between Sandor Clegane and Beric Dondarrian and the subsequent reveal of Beric’s resurrections by Thoros were scenes that I’ve been looking forward to since the beginning of the show, and they did a wonderful job with it. The fight itself was rather short but felt suitably significant, and the terror that the Hound feels at the sight of Beric’s flaming sword was conveyed perfectly.
Beric’s resurrection and the discussion about the duel provide the best Arya scenes we’ve gotten this season, and when Arya wistfully asked Thoros if he could resurrect someone without a head, not six times but just once, my heart broke for her a little. In the books, Arya’s journey is deeply concerned with matters of faith and the search for something to believe in, and this gives me a lot of hope that this will be true of her journey on the show as well. Arya was never a devout believer in the gods of either of her parents, and Syrio Forel introduced her to the idea of a singular god of Death. Here we see her being not just introduced to an idea, but shown the power of another god, and it’s an interesting exploration of what happens when you are basically forced to believe that a god is real only to find out that that god still can’t give you what you want most in the world.
Another fantastic scene with Arya is when Gendry tells her that he will be staying on with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Maisie Williams is possibly the finest of the young actors on the show, and the hurt on her face and her plaintive insistence that she could be Gendry’s family made me want to cry forever. It was sad when Arya and Gendry parted ways with Hot Pie, but at least they were leaving him in a place where he might be able to be happy and safe (as much as it’s possible to be in Westeros). Gendry isn’t removing himself from danger, though, and he has been emotional support to Arya in a way that Hot Pie wasn’t. While I understand Gendry’s reasons for staying, I also have a lot of sympathy for Arya and her feelings of being betrayed and abandoned by someone she has grown to rely upon.
I have a deep and abiding appreciation for Tormund Giantsbane’s face.
The scene with Jon and Ygritte in the cave was done as well as it possibly could have been, I think. I’m not a huge fan of Jon Snow until A Dance With Dragons, and I’ve always felt that the Jon/Ygritte relationship was not as well-developed as it could be, but I found this scene to be surprisingly sweet and nice to watch in the great sea of bad things happening to every other character on the show. I was a little surprised at just how much Ygritte’s desire to just never leave that cave got to me. I love Rose Leslie in this role, and she did a superb job in this episode.
Roose Bolton is so hilariously evil.
Qyburn is creepy.
Cersei talks to Peter Baelish about the Tyrells.
Olenna and Tyrion are talking money, and this is another amazing scene that wasn’t in the books. I’m thrilled that we get to see so much of Olenna. The Tyrells were kept sort of deliberately mysterious in the novels, but I am loving that they are such a big part of the show.
Too bad Loras is kind of an idiot and spills the family secrets to strange men. Whoops!
I do find it refreshing to have a sex scene that doesn’t involve six half-naked women.
Lord Karstark kills the Lannister children and Robb chops his head off. I really could do without Talisa. Also–Oh, Robb. You have the worst ideas.
I was not expecting to see Selyse and Shireen Baratheon this season, but here they are! Shireen is darling, and I love her because she loves Davos. Selyse is very Lady Macbeth.
Selyse has fetus jars.
I’m actually really interested to see where things go with the show’s portrayal of Selyse. She’s a sort of fascinating character, really very different from all the other women in the books, and I’d love to see her get a bigger role earlier on than I expected.
Jaime and Brienne are bathing, and Jaime tells Brienne the story of why he killed the mad king. This scene was, without reservations, absolutely perfectly done. I love the bath as a visual metaphor, and I love the way Brienne’s eyes slowly widen and well up with tears as she listens, and I love her getting angry and forgetting her self-consciousness (Gwendoline Christie has a fabulous body), and I love that the nudity here didn’t feel intended to be sexual or titillating at all. Honestly, just give these actors some awards already.
I’m not sure how I feel about the Dany storyline these days. I like a lot about it, but I’m kind of anxious to get to the parts where we start to see her fucking up left and right, struggling to learn how to be a ruler, and we can stop getting to see her as a white savior. I’ve always felt like the Dany story subverts a lot of white savior tropes, but seeing it on the show, I feel like we’re being encouraged to think a lot better of her than we are of book!Dany. I liked Grey Worm choosing to keep his “slave name” (in Dany’s words), but I don’t know if the scene went far enough to be critical of what Dany has done.
I did sort of enjoy the brief moment of Jorah/Barristan comradery.
I adore Lannister family meetings. No one is ever happy when they are over. I felt really bad for Cersei in this one, though. When she realises that her dad is serious and starts begging him not to make her marry again, I just wanted to hug her. She’s not just proud or angry, she’s legit terrified, which is pretty understandable after spending like 20 years married to a guy who beat and raped her. There are a lot of good reasons for people to not like Cersei, but if people don’t have any sympathy for her in this scene they’re probably terrible human beings.
Holy shit Shireen’s song is creepy. I guess we won’t be seeing Patchface, then?
“And Now His Watch is Ended” delivered some of my favorite scenes so far this season. We got lots of Varys and lots of Olenna–even Varys and Olenna together!–and we also get to see a major turning point for Daenerys.
**Spoilers under the cut.**
The episode opens on a shot of Jaime’s hand, which is now hanging around his neck. This mostly reminded me that it’s been a couple of episodes now since we’ve seen Davos, which sucks because he’s one of my favorite characters. Jaime, meanwhile, is is sorry shape. He’s weak from months of imprisonment; he’s injured and probably suffering from shock and blood loss; and he’s sunk into a deep depression by the loss of the sword hand that is so central to his identity. Also, he just drank horse piss. It’s really kind of awful to see anyone at their lowest point, and this is it for Jaime. Broken Jaime is an enormous change from both the confident, handsome, laughing Jaime of season one and the sarcastic, imprisoned, but somewhat more introspective Jaime of season two.
Also hard to watch is Brienne’s sheer helplessness to do anything for Jaime. This is expanded upon in the second scene with this pair in this episode as Brienne tries to get Jaime to eat against his protests that he’s dying. Brienne knows what he did for her, but she doesn’t understand why, and I don’t think Jaime understands her determination to see him live either. The truth, I think, is that neither of them are monsters and that they both have at least some sense of honor and justice that guides their actions.
The thing that rang false to me in the second Brienne/Jaime scene was when Brienne tells Jaime that he “sound[s] like a bloody woman.” A very generous interpretation of that is that Brienne is making a calculated statement that she doesn’t really believe, but that she knows he will feel shamed by, in order to try and snap Jaime out of his depression. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. It bothers me to hear those words come from Brienne’s mouth.
The second scene of the episode is the first of THREE Varys scenes. Tyrion is visiting Varys to find out if Varys can help him on his quest for revenge against whoever is responsible for trying to have him killed in the Battle of Blackwater. Tyrion is out of luck on that score, but we get to hear the story of how Varys was cut as a boy and how he managed to work his way up to his current position. Conleth Hill is delightful in the rule of Varys, and Tyrion’s face when Varys finally opens the crate is absolutely priceless.
The Night’s Watch is still at Craster’s, and no one is happy about it.
Sam goes to visit Gilly and the baby, and Gilly has no time for him unless he knows a way to save her son.
Bran is having traumatic dreams about his family still. This time it’s Catelyn. Honestly, Bran’s story is one that always bored me in the books, and it’s still mostly boring me on the show.
Next up is Varys again, but this time he’s with Ros. They have an amusing chat about Podrick, and then Ros tells Varys that Littlefinger is planning to spirit Sansa away.
Joffrey is giving Margaery a rather gruesome tour of the Great Sept while Cersei and Olenna are discussing wedding plans and how stupid men are.
I love Joffrey being so smitten with Margaery in spite of himself. It’s like every once in a while he will think that he wants to kill her or that he hates women or something, but then he shakes it off because she knows just what to say to control him and because he’s intrigued by her. She’s not domineering like Cersei, and she’s not passive (or at least passive-seeming) like Sansa, and the people love her in a way that Joffrey has never seen the people of the city love anyone.
I really enjoyed the conversation between Cersei and Olenna as well. Cersei doesn’t like or trust the Tyrell’s, and she’s jealous of Margaery, but she also seemed to have just a moment in this episode when she felt like Olenna understood her.
Theon is still traveling with Iwan Rheon and telling him EVERYTHING. Oh, Theon, you poor stupid boy. I did tear up a little at “My real father lost his head at King’s Landing,” though. I’m fairly certain now that Iwan Rheon is Ramsay Snow, and his look of almost orgasmic joy as the tied Theon back to the cross thingy was downright disturbing.
It’s now Cersei’s turn to try and get Tywin to love her, but it doesn’t work.
The third and final Varys scene is Varys with Olenna, and it’s wonderful.
Margaery seeks out Sansa to make friends and to suggest that Sansa could marry Loras. I’m actually a little bugged by this change, although I know it’s trivial and that it really, truly doesn’t make a difference which Tyrell son is offered to Sansa. I even understand why the show writers wouldn’t want to introduce another name of a character that we never get to meet, but there were reasons why Loras wasn’t the son suggested for Sansa in the book, and those reasons still exist in the show.
Craster and Mormont meet their ends and Sam runs off into the night with Gilly. I thought they did a great job of conveying the chaos of these events, but I would have liked Sam to stay and hear the Old Bear’s last words before leaving.
Arya and Gendry have finally reached the lair of the Brotherhood Without Banners. We get a better sense of who these men are, and we get to meet Beric Dondarrion, who is inexplicably sexy for a dude who has been so obviously terribly injured. Hopefully we don’t have to wait two weeks for the trial by combat that the Hound is facing.
The scene that has had everyone talking is where Daenerys hands over her dragon, Drogon, in exchange for 8000 Unsullied soldiers. Honestly, this scene is everything I could have hoped. I’ve always felt that Game of Thrones struggles to convey the epicness of the story that is being told, but this was indeed epic. We got wide shots of rows upon rows of Unsullied. We got Drogon flying and making angry seagull noises. We got the glorious reveal that Dany spoke Valyrian the whole time. We got the smoky ruins of Astapor and Dany dropping her whip as she led her army out while all three dragons fly overhead. I was so disappointed in the Dany storyline in season 2, and it’s really gratifying to see this turning point in her story getting the treatment I think it deserves.
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.
Bran is getting handsome. Also, the boy who plays Jojen sure has grown up since he was on Doctor Who.
Osha has no time for this magic dreams shit.
I still really don’t like Talisa. I also can’t stand Show!Robb because of it.
Lord Bolton’s face. There is no good news.
Except we’re finally moving toward Riverrun and hopefully this means the Robb/Catelyn storyline will be getting back on track to where it was in the books. I’m a little bummed that we don’t get to see Catelyn nursing her dad on the show.
Whoops for Theon! I’m glad this scene was brief. There’s so much ugliness in the books/show that I could do without any kind of torture porn. I understand why they wanted to show some of what happens to Theon on-screen in the show, but it could get real gross real fast if they aren’t careful.
In the Jaime and Brienne show, Jaime is trying to see how much of an enormous dick he can be on this rather uneventful (so far) road trip they’re on.
“We don’t get to choose who we love.” I really like when Jaime has human moments and when he manages to get Brienne to show some of her humanity.
You probably should have killed that old man.
Poor Cersei. Sorry your son is a huge douchebag. Your motherly advice sucks, but he could at least take it with a little more grace. I kind of feel like Cersei’s internalized misogyny is at least somewhat responsible for Joffrey’s general misogyny, and this scene is a great example of how that shit will backfire on one. Just because Cersei thinks of herself as exceptional doesn’t make her son see her as anything other than just another weak, useless woman.
I like that Sansa has someone to look out for her, although I don’t really understand why Shae would care that much. Although I guess this goes back to the last episode where Ros tells Shae basically that women need to look out for each other, so maybe Shae is just a pretty okay sort of person.
Loras doesn’t remember Sansa at all. I wish that it was a little more clear in the show that this is partly because he’s so absorbed in his grief for Renly. There’s a deleted scene from season 2 that I think would have helped with establishing that.
Diana Rigg is perfect as Olenna. Most of the dialogue in this scene is lifted straight from the book, which is good. George R.R. Martin writes excellent dialogue. However, the things that I loved best about this scene were Margaery’s embarrassed little laugh when she introduced Sansa to her grandmother, “That’s a pity,” and Margaery’s face/shrug when Sansa tells them Joffrey’s a monster. Margaery and Olenna are both just like, “Welp, I guess we’ll have to poison this one.” LOL.
Lord Karstark is so right.
I like Catelyn’s story all the way up to the point where she says that she’s responsible for every bad thing that has happened to her family. I think it is in character and fits with the characterization of Catelyn in the books that she would feel at least a little bad about her feelings for Jon Snow. However, there is NO WAY that Catelyn would ever blame herself so completely for the state of her family at this point. I’m really starting to be pissed that they aren’t giving her a chance on the show to be a voice of reason to Robb like she was in the books. Instead they’re pushing her away and weakening her character, and it’s disgusting.
Jon and Mance are still north of the Wall. We get to see Orell, a warg in action, but all he saw was dead Night’s Watch guys.
Poor Sam. I don’t like that Show!Sam is being made to be so pathetic. In the books, Sam is cowardly and fat and a terrible fighter, but he’s also literate and clever and good with the ravens. Even early on in the books, we’re shown that Sam has some valuable skills that make up, at least a little bit, for his failings as a soldier.
❤ Mormont forbidding Sam to die. And fuck you, Rast.
I love how self-assured Jojen is. And I like Meera a lot. Hopefully they will inject some life into the REAL most boring road trip ever. The Bran storyline is one that I don’t really love in the books, so I’m curious to see if the show can make it interesting.
Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie meet the Brotherhood without banners.
I don’t love this scene with Tyrion and Shae. However, after watching it twice I’m wondering if maybe they are planting the seeds of jealousy that might make Shae betray Tyrion later on.
The scene with Joffrey and Margaery is probably my favorite scene so far in this season. Show!Joffrey seems a bit more clever than Book!Joffrey, but he’s still nowhere close to a match for Margaery Tyrell and she plays him like a fiddle. “Do you think I could?” and “Would you like to watch me [kill someone]?” are perfectly written and delivered and another example (like Cersei’s line about Tyrion’s nose) of things that I think are great fun to watch if you’ve read the books and know what is going to happen.
Who the hell is Iwan Rheon playing? Is he Reek/Ramsay? Or is he a character that’s not in the book? I don’t even know, but I’m actually kind of excited to see what they do with Theon this season. A little disappointed that Iwan Rheon doesn’t have a beard, but I guess I can deal with that.
Osha and Meera’s conversation. “Some people will always need help.”
Moving along with Arya and the Hound. I hate cliffhangers, though.
Speaking of cliffhangers… Whoops! Brienne should definitely have killed that old man.
I was a little let down that we didn’t get to see the battle between the Night’s Watch and the zombies at the Fist of the First Men, but the black screen and screaming was pretty creepy and I guess I understand why they might be trying to save their budget by not showing it to us. Alternatively, they’re trying to keep a little mystery about the bad stuff that is beyond the Wall, which I guess they managed to do.
I’m curious to see how long they keep Lord Commander Mormont around, since they haven’t really laid the groundwork yet for the big-ish event related to him.
I still love Rose Leslie as Ygritte.
I was thrilled to see a giant. I was slightly concerned that they might cut the giants to save money. However, I still want to see polar bear mounts and Varamyr Sixskins, which have not been introduced yet.
Tormund Giantsbane is not as big as I imagined him when reading the books, but I have a thing for handsome red-headed guys with beards so I was pleased.
I wasn’t sure about Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder, but it looks like they’re going in a somewhat different direction with the character for the show and I think I like him. The first meeting between Mance and Jon Snow was satisfactory.
However, where are Dalla and Val?! I didn’t even see them in the background, and I don’t know how they’re going to do A Feast for Crows without them.
SEXPOSITION. Less than 15 minutes into the first episode of the season and courtesy of Bronn. There’s not even very much exposition going on here. However, the boy who plays Podrick is precious, and I want to hug him every time he’s on screen.
Cersei and Tyrion! Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey are excellent together, and I laughed out loud at Cersei’s comment about Tyrion’s nose.
Tyrion and Tywin! They lifted the dialogue almost exactly from the book, and Charles Dance’s execution is perfection. Also, Peter Dinklage should win an Emmy for this scene alone.
I can already tell I’m going to love show!Margaery even more than I love book!Margaery, which is a lot. I can’t wait to meet Olenna!
Joffrey gets in a great jab at his mother over dinner. I actually feel bad for Cersei.
Also, I’m in love with the fabrics on this show. Joffrey’s dinner outfit is fabulous.
Sansa is beautiful. Show!Shae still sort of doesn’t do it for me.
Littlefinger is still creepy, but I like Ros for warning Shae to watch over Sansa.
Davos is alive! Salladhor Saan is the handsomest pirate in Westeros, but Davos ignores his good advice.
I didn’t care for the Robb/Catelyn/Talisa scene. At all. I think I just really don’t like Talisa because I think that the Robb/Talisa dynamic makes Robb a much less sympathetic character than the Robb/Jeyne story in the book. Sorry your oldest son is a selfish douchebag, Catelyn.
DRAGONS! They are less cute now, but more awesome with spikes and stuff.
Jorah is a creepy dirtbag.
The Unsullied don’t look like I imagined them, but in the absence of actual eunuchs being available for the show I guess it makes sense to make them look tough.
Barristan Selmy is back! Which was probably my favorite part of this episode since I missed him last season. They did what I pretty much expected them to do with introducing him, but I’m a little sad that Strong Belwas seems to have been cut.