Tag Archives: GoT S3

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 10 “Mhysa”

This was a bit of a weird episode for me. On the one hand, only two of the things that I really wanted to see in it happened. On the other hand, most of the episode was really satisfying. At the same time, there was one scene that I (and a lot of other people) just absolutely hated, and it was bad enough to almost ruin the episode.

**Spoilers under the cut.**

The episode opens with more Red Wedding chaos at the Twins. Arya wakes up just in time to see her brother’s desecrated body being paraded through the continuing carnage before Sandor grabs a Frey banner and rides off into the night. I shouldn’t have been, but I was, a little surprised to see the infamous RobbWind brought to life for the show. In

A Storm of Swords

, it’s not clear whether this is a real event that happened or whether the story is part of the already-growing legend of the Red Wedding. It also just broke my heart that it was something that Arya actually sees in the show. Poor, poor Arya.

Later in the episode, Sandor and Arya come upon a group of Frey men who are laughing and joking about the Red Wedding and bragging about their part in it. Arya steals the Hound’s knife, approaches the men as a child asking for food, and then attacks and kills one of them when their guard is down. Sandor steps in to kill the others before they can retaliate. Arya is so obviously

not okay

right now.

It’s interesting to see how Sandor Clegane functions as another in a series of surrogate father figures for Arya. Ned Stark tried to shelter Arya, only somewhat reluctantly letting her take lessons from Syrio Forel. Syrio introduced Arya to a philosophy of fighting and warfare and then sacrificed himself to save her. Yoren gave Arya the idea of the litany of names she recites–people she someday plans to kill. Jaqen H’ghar killed for Arya and gave her the coin that will help her find the next part of her destiny. Beric and Thoros were kind to Arya, in their way, but viewed her as a pawn, much the same way that most highborn men view daughters.

Sandor, however, treats Arya more as an equal than anything else. He’s not forthcoming, but, when asked, he doesn’t mince words about his motives for capturing her when she flees the Brotherhood Without Banners. When she says he’s the worst, he doesn’t defend himself, but rather just points out how narrow her view of the world is. He doesn’t argue with her or make excuses or beg her forgiveness when she threatens to kill him. Indeed, he respects her anger and never tries to invalidate her feelings.

In “Mhysa” we see another illustrative example of how the relationship between Arya and Sandor works. Sandor knocked her over the head to save her at the end of “The Rains of Castamere,” showing that he feels some obligation or compulsion to protect Arya even though, at this point, there is basically no way that she has any value to him since everyone who might have paid a ransom or reward for her is dead. However, in this episode, the first shot of Sandor and Arya that we get seems to linger meaningfully on Sandor’s failure (or possibly refusal) to protect Arya from the sight of Robb Stark’s desecrated corpse being paraded through the ongoing battle. Later, when Arya kills the Frey man, Sandor simply asks her if that was the first man she’s killed and then advises her to tell him first the next time she’s planning on doing something like that. A simplistic reading of the Arya/Sandor relationship (and the Sansa/Sandor relationship) would be that this man, who lost his own innocence at such a young age, is drawn to the innocence in the Stark girls and wants to protect it. However, I think it’s more accurate to say that Sandor wants to make the Stark girls’ loss of innocence easier rather than to actually prevent it. It’s as if he sees himself less as a protector than as a guide.

Speaking of Sansa, we’re next transported to King’s Landing where she’s walking through the gardens with Tyrion (and Shae behind them). Tyrion and Sansa have a rare bonding moment over their mutual outcast status, and Sansa suggests a prank they could play on the men who just laughed at them. It’s a rare moment between this pair that shows that maybe they really could develop, if not a romance, at least a friendship. It’s nice to see Sansa get even a moment to be herself since most of her time in King’s Landing has been spent under a mask of courtesy just hoping to stay alive and not be raped. The moment is a little ruined, however, when Podrick Payne arrives to tell Tyrion that there is a small council meeting he needs to attend.

At the small council meeting, Joffrey is gleeful upon hearing about the Red Wedding, and he wants to have Robb Stark’s head served to Sansa at the upcoming King’s Landing wedding. Tyrion will have none of that, telling Joffrey that Sansa is no longer his to torment. This, of course, prompts a royal tantrum from Joffrey which only works to elicit threats from Tyrion. Tywin, in his way, sides with his son, at which point Joffrey insults Tywin to his face. The faces of the small council and the moment of silence as they wait to see how Tywin responds are one of many excellent moments in this episode. Tywin responds by sending the king to bed, which effectively puts an end to the meeting.

When the others leave, Tywin asks Tyrion to stay behind for a lecture of familial duty. Tyrion doesn’t receive this very well, and he asks Tywin when he ever did anything that wasn’t in his own best interests. To which Tywin, who is kind of awful, responds that he didn’t drown Tyrion when he was born. It’s a sad moment for Tyrion, who has always known that his father resented him but maybe did not know that his father actually wanted him dead.

By the time Tyrion returns to the rooms he shares with Sansa, Sansa has found out about Robb and Catelyn’s deaths and whatever fragile accord she and Tyrion had been forging is, predictably, shattered.

Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds have reached the Nightfort, where Bran tells his companions the story of the Rat Cook–a cook at the Nightfort who was punished for violating guest rights by being turned into a giant white rat who, like all punished souls, roams the Nightfort forever in torment.

The story of the Rat Cook suggests a sort of cosmic justice for crimes like those committed by Walder Frey at the Twins, but we break from Bran’s company directly to Walder Frey and Roose Bolton gloating over their victory while servants try to scrub blood from the floors. Roose Boltom complains of Robb’s arrogance and failure to listen to the advice of older and wiser men, which suggests that when viewed from a different angle the Young Wolf’s death is a different sort of justice. As tragic and horrifying as the Red Wedding was, Robb Stark had made choices that were getting men killed. He took advantage of the honor of his bannermen and betrayed them all, leading them in a way that could have gotten them annihilated in the war with the Lannisters. In the end, Robb’s personal charisma and battle prowess weren’t enough to win him a kingdom. Sensible men prefer peace and stability, not wars fought in service of personal quarrels, but Robb arrogantly believed that he could use his bannermen for his own ends and against their own better judgment.

Also in this scene we learn what actually happened at Winterfell, and we learn the identity of Theon Greyjoy’s torturer. Readers of the books weren’t surprised to learn that it’s Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard son. On that note, we get to a scene of the aforementioned Ramsay, who is eating a fat sausage while Theon begs to be die. Ramsay, of course, will not oblige Theon in this matter. Instead, Ramsay decides to rename Theon as “Reek,” a name for fitting to Theon’s current status, and beats Theon into submission. I haven’t loved a lot of the Theon/Ramsay scenes this season, and a couple of them were really just gratuitous torture porn, but this scene worked for me. It’s also one of the scenes that I was hoping to see in this episode, and I was relieved to finally have Ramsay’s identity settled. Now I’m just curious to see what they do with this pair in season four.

Back at the Nightfort, scary sounds wake Bran and the Reeds up, but it’s just Sam and Gilly. Sam almost immediately recognizes Bran as Jon’s brother and tries to convince them to come to Castle Black instead of going past the Wall. However, Jojen implies that Bran may be able to stop the zombie apocalypse, so Sam arms the Reeds and Hodor with dragonglass and sends them on their way. I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t seen Coldhands, although it’s possible that he will meet Bran and the Reeds when they emerge from the Wall in season four. I’m also not sure how I feel about Jojen’s implication that Bran might be some kind of magic hero that can stop the white walkers. The books imply that Bran has a part to play in the global events that are going on, but not so specifically as Jojen does here. It raises the stakes for Bran’s story and imbues the character with importance that he hasn’t had so far in the novels, but I’m still just not particularly interested in Bran’s journey. Time will tell, I suppose.

In the Iron Islands, Balon and Yara receive a box with Theon’s penis in it (am I the only one surprised by the lack of “dick in a box” jokes since this scene aired?) and a letter from Ramsay Snow, who says that if they don’t comply with his demands he’ll keep sending them pieces of Theon. Balon looks unhappy, but he’s prepared to let Theon die. Yara, however, isn’t going to let her little brother get killed, and she outlines her plan to mount a rescue mission. This is a bit of a departure from Yara/Asha’s storyline in the books, but I like it. I also loved the shot of her in her armor striding purposefully around looking tough and capable.

At Dragonstone, Davos and Gendry bond over growing up in Fleabottom, and we learn a little more about Davos’s history. Later, we get a scene of Davos reading letters with Shireen (who preciously tells him that her books are much more interesting) when bells start ringing. Davos rushes to Stannis to find out what the bells are about only to be told about the Red Wedding, which success Melisandre attributes to her leeches, and that Stannis has decided to allow Gendry to be sacrificed. There’s an excellent, if heavy-handed, shot that positions Davos and Melisandre as the angel and devil (respectively) on Stannis’s shoulders, but Stannis is determined to sacrifice the boy against Davos’s protests.

Davos then rushes to smuggle Gendry out of Dragonstone, putting him on a boat that should get him to King’s Landing if he doesn’t fall out and drown. Stannis is predictably angry about Davos’s duplicity and is ready to have Davos executed when Davos suggests another plan. They’re going to go north to aid the Night’s Watch and secure the kingdom. Even Melisandre agrees with this plan and she intercedes with Stannis to save Davos’s life. Stannis’s little laugh at this rare accord between his two most valued advisers is one of my favorite moments in the episode, although the brilliance of the setting sun lighting the shot seemed a little over-the-top dramatic to me.

Back in King’s Landing, Varys approaches Shae and we get another scene of people bonding over shared humble backgrounds. I like that Shae gets to be a little more complex in the show than she was in the books. Her love of Sansa as well as her jealousy over Tyrion’s affections are compelling motivating forces that make show!Shae much more interesting than the more pragmatic and mercenary Shae of the novels. Varys, however, wants Shae to leave King’s Landing and is willing to pay her handsomely to do so. He thinks she is a distraction for Tyrion, who he contends is one of only a few people capable of doing real good in Westeros. Needless to say, Shae doesn’t take this well and she refuses to leave.

Tyrion, meanwhile, is getting very drunk with Podrick Payne when Cersei comes to talk with him. Cersei advises Tyrion to give Sansa a child as soon as possible and recounts how her own children were what kept her from killing herself, giving her purpose and joy in her life. I love these sort of conversations between Tyrion and Cersei because I get the feeling that these are the times when we see Cersei as her most authentic self. She’s able to be honest with Tyrion in a way that I don’t think she is even with Jaime because Tyrion isn’t blind to Cersei’s faults the way Jaime seems to be.

Back in the North, Ygritte catches up to Jon Snow, who is on his way back to Castle Black. Jon makes an enormous ass of himself, insisting, childlike, that he “[has] to go home now.” Ygritte, who dared to hope that she might be Jon’s home, is devastated. Even with her bow trained on him, Jon doesn’t think Ygritte will hurt him, prompting another reiteration of “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Through her tears (and with a delicately quivering lower lip in another excellent performance by Rose Leslie), Ygritte manages to hit Jon with several arrows as he rides away.

At Castle Black, Sam has brought Gilly to meet Maester Aemon. Gilly has decided to name her son Sam, which is adorable. After Sam gives an impassioned speech about his interpretation of his vows to include Wildlings, Aemon determines that Gilly can stay as a guest of the Night’s Watch for the time being. Then, Aemon immediately puts Sam to work writing the letters to be sent out to all the lords in Westeros warning them of the danger coming from beyond the Wall.

Jaime and Brienne have reached King’s Landing, where Jaime is no longer recognizable as himself. Brienne’s small sort of smile of encouragement and sympathy was lovely and sad. Jaime, of course, goes straight to find Cersei who, for once, is speechless, although we’ll have to wait until next season to find out if she’s speechless with joy or dismay.

Finally, outside Yunkai Daenerys and friends are waiting outside the city apprehensively. Then the gates open and now-freed slaves start streaming out. When the crowd has gathered, they start yelling “mhysa,” which means “mother” in old Ghiscari, at which point Dany decides to walk amongst her new people, who lift her up worshipfully. While dragons fly in circles overhead, we get a wide shot showing the thousands of people in Dany’s army and the mass of freed people from Yunkai. Then the credits start.

I have never been so disappointed with the ending of any episode of this show. All the way up to the last five minutes I was enjoying the episode, but the Dany scene that gives the episode its name is truly terrible on basically every level. The scene of the uniformly brown freed people practically worshiping the whitest white lady in the world should seriously make everyone uncomfortable. Because it’s gross and racist. In addition to being heavy-handed, cliche, and just plain cheesy. It’s not even laughably bad because it’s obvious that the writers and directors took this scene very seriously and really, really thought that it would be an emotional high point for viewers. In three seasons of this show, there have been a lot of sour points for me, but this just absolutely takes the cake for being disgustingly racist as well as just plain lazy and unimaginative.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere”

Hoo boy, this episode. “The Rains of Castamere” contains one of the most controversial events in A Song of Ice and Fire, but it also has some of the finest scenes of exposition that I can remember in the show to date.

**Spoilers under the cut.**

  • The Twins are in the opening credits. I don’t remember seeing them there before (previously it was just Riverrun, I think.)
  • The ominous shot of the Bolton token on Robb’s map was a nice touch.
  • Robb and Catelyn have a sort of reconciliation when Robb asks Catelyn for advice regarding his (frankly, terrible) plan to attack Casterly Rock.
  • Next up, the Stark party is arriving at the Twins. They eat Walder Frey’s bread and salt, and Robb offers a really asinine apology to a parade of rather plain Frey girls. Walder Frey calls Robb out, though, while also being particularly vile to Talisa. This scene, for me, is where the substitution of Talisa for Jeyne is most grating. Book!Robb deflowers Jeyne Westerling, and this creates a real crisis of honor for him. Does he marry Jeyne to preserve her honor or does he keep his promise to Walder Frey? Show!Robb, we are told, fell in love with Talisa and just couldn’t help but marry her. He makes a conscious and willful choice to prioritize his own feelings over doing the honorable (and responsible) thing and preserving the Frey alliance. I don’t see how there would be any way for Show!Robb to apologize that wouldn’t make him sound like an asshole. I was happy to see Walder Frey mock Robb’s so-called “honor” here.
  • Tobias Menzies doesn’t get many lines as Edmure, but he makes the best faces. I’m honestly impressed with how much he’s able to communicate with his looks. Also, there is at least one laugh-out-loud funny Edmure face per episode, which is good.
  • “The wine will flow red…” Well, something will flow red.
  • Daario has a plan for how to get Daenerys’ army into Yunkai. Jorah hates it, but Grey Worm trusts Daario (inexplicably) and Dany gives them the go-ahead. I was surprised that the sacking of Yunkai was in this episode since the next episode title, “Mhysa,” seems to indicate a Dany-centric episode. There’s still a little more of this story to be told in the last episode, but I was hoping for a more epic battle scene next week. I guess we’ll see.
  • Sam and Gilly arrive at the Wall in the first of several excellent exposition scenes in this episode. Sam tells Gilly about the Nightfort, one of the abandoned castles along the Wall, and he says that there is a secret passage into the castle that will allow them to get through and travel to Castle Black. He read it in a book, which prompts Gilly to say he’s “like a magician” and elicits a proud smile from Sam, who I don’t think is used to being useful and competent. I’ve loved this whole storyline so far, but I do hope this doesn’t mean the show is going to skip Coldhands.
  • Arya and the Hound are still working their way toward the Twins, and they commandeer some old guy’s cart of salt pork. When Sandor goes to kill the old man, Arya begs him not to, to which the Hound replies, “You’re very kind. Someday it’s going to get you killed.” Arya then proceeds to bludgeon the old guy one more time to make sure he stays knocked out. The look on the Hound’s face is priceless. I guess Arya’s not that kind.
  • Bran, Rickon, Osha, and Reeds are getting closer to the Wall. In the second great piece of exposition in the episode, we learn that the land they’re now traveling through is called the Gift. It’s the land for 50 miles south of the Wall, given to the Night’s Watch in perpetuity to help support them. Unfortunately, we also learn that it’s mostly abandoned because Wildlings raid so often that the diminished Night’s Watch couldn’t protect the people who lived there. Even Rickon has a line in this scene, and it’s adorable.
  • Jon and the Wildlings are also in the Gift, where they are about to steal some horses from a man who breeds and sells them to the Night’s Watch. Jon begs Tormund not to kill the old man, but Tormund is eager to draw the attention of the Night’s Watch so they can fight. However, Jon manages to make enough noise to alert the horses so the man can escape.
  • Arya is getting more and more anxious the closer she and Sandor get to the Twins. She proves all over again in this short scene that she isn’t all that kind at all. We’re really starting to see the toll her experiences are taking on her. Sandor seems to be only somewhat frightened of this fierce, hard girl, but I think he mostly just pities her.
  • Bran and company are trying to figure out how to get past the Wall, and they continue to deliver valuable exposition that feels natural and not like a lecture on the history of Westeros. We learn that only three of the nineteen castles along the Wall are occupied and that the others have had their gates sealed with stone and ice. We also learn more about how the Wildlings manage to come south. Hodor starts freaking out about the storm just as Osha and the Reeds see Wildlings ride up outside, and Bran has to warg into Hodor in order to calm him down.
  • Orell hears Hodor, but is momentarily distracted when they capture the horse breeder.
  • Jojen wants Bran to warg into Summer and attack the Wildlings. Bran doesn’t know how to do it on purpose, but he figures it out after all.
  • Jon can’t bring himself to kill the horse breeder, so Ygritte does. A fight ensues between Jon and the Wildlings. Summer and Shaggydog join the fight. Jon kills Orell, who wargs into his eagle at the last moment and then the fakest eagle ever attacks Jon’s face. Jon manages to escape on a horse, leaving an angry and heartbroken Ygritte behind. Rose Leslie did an incredible job of conveying Ygritte’s sense of betrayal here.
  • Back at Yunkai, Daario gets himself, Jorah, and Grey Worm into the city where they fight with the guards in kind of a great battle scene.
  • Edmure is apprehensive as he watches his bride walk towards him all covered in a heavy veil. Tobias Menzies and Michelle Fairley communicate so much with their looks in this scene, it’s really impressive. Edmure’s look of relief when the veil is removed and Roslin Frey turns out to be extremely young and very pretty and Catelyn’s encouraging and proud smile to her brother made this scene work. My only nitpick here is that they say “the Stranger” in their wedding vows. I thought that worshipers of the Seven didn’t say the Stranger ever because the Stranger is a god of death and it’s unlucky or something. People who haven’t read the books would never know the difference, but it bugged me a little.
  • Bran says that he saw Jon Snow through Summer’s eyes, and we learn a little more about what it means to be a warg. Jojen says and Osha confirms that Bran’s ability to warg into another human is unique. Bran realises that he has to go with Jojen and Meera north of the Wall, so he sends Rickon away with Osha. This scene actually made me teary. It’s been almost a joke that Rickon hasn’t gotten much to do on screen this season, but his desire to stay and protect Bran is sweet and sad enough to make up for his previous lack of screentime.
  • Daenerys is getting anxious back at her camp. She doesn’t know how long it’s supposed to take to sack a city. Jorah and Grey Worm come back covered in blood to tell her that they’ve been victorious. Jorah’s face when Dany asks about Daario is, I think, supposed to be sad, but I found it comical. (How do you say “friend-zoned” in Valyrian?) Daario comes back a moment later, and he lays the banner of Yunkai at Dany’s feet.
  • The rest of the episode is dedicated to the wedding feast, which at first seems to be going well. We get to hear Roose Bolton’s story about how he got a fat wife. Brynden Tully goes to take a piss, which I think is what is going to save him from what comes later. Robb and Talisa are even being cute. Talisa’s look of alarm/horror at the bedding tradition is probably the moment that I have liked her best. Cat tells Roose that Ned forbade the bedding at their own wedding–because obviously the writers of this show want to keep making us fall in love with these characters right up to the very end. In that same vein, Robb and Talisa are talking baby names, and Robb actually tears up when Talisa talks about a baby Ned Stark.
  • And that’s about when the musicians start playing “The Rains of Castamere” and Catelyn knows that something is very, very wrong.
  • Cut to Grey Wind whining and trying to escape the kennel.
  • Sandor and Arya have arrived, only to be told that the feast is over. The Hound has an idea of what is going on, but Arya has already run off.
  • Cat still knows something bad is about to happen. Roose Bolton gives her a look and she pulls up his sleeve to find that he’s wearing chainmail.
  • All hell proceeds to break loose.
  • Talisa gets stabbed in the belly, which is horrifying. However, it’s not nearly as bad as some people made it out to be. To hear some people talk on Twitter, the Freys practically cut Fetus Stark out and kicked it around on the floor, but that is not the case.
  • Robb gets about half a dozen crossbow bolts in the chest, and Cat gets one in the back.
  • Walder Frey is just grinning like crazy while people’s throats are getting cut all over the place. I felt like the pure chaos of the scene was portrayed well.
  • Arya is trying to sneak in when she sees a bunch of Stark guards and Grey Wind get killed. The Hound clubs her over the head and carries her off into the night.
  • Back in the dining hall, Catelyn grabs Lady Frey as a hostage so she can make one last, desperate plea for her son’s life only to find out that Walder Frey doesn’t care about his wife at all.
  • Robb has crawled to Talisa’s body, but he stands up, only to get a dagger through the heart from Roose Bolton, who also sends regards from the Lannisters.
  • Catelyn’s face just empties of all hope as she screams in agony. She cuts Lady Frey’s throat; then her own throat is cut and that’s the end of the episode.

I guess I should talk about the Red Wedding and how it made me feel, but mostly I just feel relieved to have that part of the show over with. It’s been mildly amusing to see the reactions of people who somehow just had no idea that it was coming, but I honestly just don’t see how that’s even possible.

Robb Stark is a character that was basically doomed from the start, and he’s made pretty much every mistake he could possibly make if he really wanted to be a king. The Red Wedding is, not justice exactly, but the sort of natural result of Robb’s mistakes–as well as his hubris. As recently as the beginning of this very episode Robb was making plans to sacrifice the lives of someone else’s army in waging a campaign that is risky and not even particularly strategically sound. Robb Stark fails over and over again as a leader because he prioritizes his own feelings–his love for Talisa, his desire for vengeance on the Lannisters–over his responsibilities to his bannermen and his fledgling kingdom. Over and over we are shown that Robb doesn’t value or respect his supporters, so I don’t understand why people were surprised at Roose Bolton’s betrayal and Walder Frey’s bloody revenge.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 8 “Second Sons”

Opinions on the internet about “Second Sons” seem to indicate that this is either the best or worst episode of the season so far. I’m honestly a little confused as to why opinions are so polarized about what I think was a solid, if somewhat slow, episode that narrowed its focus to just a handful of plots, all of which were advanced by what we saw here.

The previous episodes in season 3 have often had a somewhat hectic, frantic pace as the writers tried to cover as much ground as possible in each episode, but there have still been times where it felt as if, although a lot was happening on screen, none of the stories were really advancing very much. “Second Sons” has longer scenes, a slower, more deliberate, pace and less action, but for me it felt like a more thoughtful and thorough examination of the episode’s themes than some of this season’s previous episodes, which struggled to do each plot justice and sometimes had inconsistent tones that undermined thematic messaging.

**Spoilers under the cut.**

  • The episode opens with Arya advancing toward the sleeping Sandor Clegane, large rock in hand and planning to bash his brains out. When she realizes the Hound is awake, Arya is unable to actually kill him and they ride on toward wherever he is taking her. Which turns out to be the Twins. Sandor hopes to arrive in time to collect a ransom for Arya at her uncle Edmure’s wedding.
  • This opening scene is one of my favorite of the season so far, and my second favorite scene in this episode. Sandor Clegane is one of my favorite characters in the books, and the exchange he has here with Arya works well to establish his character on the show. Arya’s experience of the world is, honestly, still pretty limited, and Sandor’s response when she tells him, “There’s no one worse than you,” highlights just how innocent Arya actually is. The Hound has no illusions of himself as an upright or particularly moral man, and he’s done terrible things, but he’s not a monster. More to the point, he knows men who are monsters. His brother Gregor is one, and Joffrey was another, and while Sandor’s flight from King’s Landing and the Battle of the Blackwater was at least half based on the sheer, visceral terror he felt at the sight of the wildfire, I think that it also represents Sandor’s rejection of the entire system of kings and lords and knights and armies. So here, in this scene with Arya as they look out over picturesque countryside, Sandor is trying, in his way, to be a better man, and he’s looking for recognition of that. I don’t think Arya can give him what he wants, no more than Sansa ever could, but this speech is about Sandor’s self-affirmation as much as it’s about teaching an innocent young girl the ways of the world.
  • The first of the three main plots of this episode finds us with Daenerys and her men spying on the camp of a mercenary group called the Second Sons. She summons the leaders of this mercenary band to her own camp to find out if she can buy them away from their Yunkai’i masters, at which point we meet the thoroughly disgusting Mero, his second-in-command Prendahl na Ghezn, and Daario Naharis. Mero is a truly obnoxious piece of work who, without much real malice, has his misogyny on full display as he suggests that Dany is a whore, sniffs in the grossest way possible at Missandei (whose face is priceless), and asks Dany to show him her cunt. Prendahl barely says a word. And Daario…
  • Casting Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis is, I think, the biggest missed opportunity this show has had to cast a person of color in a prominent role. It’s a character whose race is never explicitly described in the books–all we know is that he has blue eyes, which could be an indicator of him being white if, you know, tons of PoC didn’t have blue eyes. Or if it really even mattered that much. The show has never been particular about casting any character exactly as described in the books, and the books’ descriptions of Daario gave the casting director pretty much carte blanche to choose whoever they wanted. Daario’s flamboyant fashion and distinctive weapons are far more important than his blue eyes, and the costumers failed entirely in creating everything except the naked lady swords. So instead of a handsome, charismatic sellsword who I could believe Daenerys might fall in love with, we got an ugly white dude in generic-looking armor wearing what looks like one of Cersei Lannister’s season one wigs. I don’t consider this a case of white-washing, but it is an example of defaulting to white in the absence of the writer explicitly describing a character’s race. The fantasy genre has always been very white, especially in European history-inspired worlds and I can deal with most of Westeros being white folk, but it’s pure racist laziness to cast major characters from the primarily PoC-inhabited Essos as white. Even if we accept that Essos has many multicultural populations and a lot of expatriates from Westeros, this casting choice is still a missed opportunity at best and a deliberate exclusion of PoC at worst.
  • On the bright side, we finally get another scene of Dany and Missandei interacting with each other. Missandei speaks 19 languages, and I laughed when she criticized Dany’s Dothraki. I really, really want this relationship to be developed more than it has been, and the moment here is cut far too short by Daario showing up to gift Dany the severed heads of Mero (good riddance!) and Prendahl.
  • I honestly just have a lot of mixed feelings about show!Dany at this point. On the one hand, she’s fucking terrible. She’s arrogant and smug and imperialistic and I don’t like the feeling I get that I, as a woman, am supposed to find these traits in Dany admirable or empowering. On the other hand, she’s fucking terrible, just increasingly unlikable, and if things go the way on the show that they do in the books this shit is not going to work out very well for Dany at all. Which in the books I read as criticism and subversion of white savior tropes. So it could be just too early to really judge the show, as things don’t really get hard for book!Dany until A Dance With Dragons. On the third hand, Dany has definitely evolved and grown as a character over the course of three seasons of the show. We’ve seen her go from a scared young girl sold into marriage to a man who raped her to a woman who has lost a husband and son, who has learned to own her sexuality, and who has become comfortable (maybe too comfortable) in her roles as both warlord and woman. Her self-assurance was palpable in “Second Sons” as she steps out of her bath to approach Daario, and it interestingly recalls the scene in season one when Dany steps into a scalding bath in order to wash away her brother’s unwanted touch. In the first season scene, we saw Daenerys at her most disempowered, doing something that for any other woman would be an act of significant self-harm, but here we see her as a woman who is confident in her waxing power to the point of being unafraid to stand nude before a man who just moments before held a knife to Missandei’s throat.
  • Elsewhere, Melisandre and Gendry have arrived at Dragonstone. Stannis is clearly uncomfortable with Melisandre’s plans to sacrifice Gendry, so he goes to see Davos. The relationship between Stannis and Davos is one of my favorites in the books, and it’s been handled really well on the show. We see here just how much Stannis relies on Davos for advice and friendship, and we find out why Stannis believes in Melisandre and her god. Davos is still unconvinced, so we are treated to a scene where Melisandre seduces Gendry only to tie him down and drop leeches down his pants. Stannis drops the leeches into a fire, naming his enemies (Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, and Joffrey Baratheon) one by one. I’m curious to find out what it takes for Davos to be convinced that the Lord of Light is real.
  • The biggest event of this episode turns out to be the most awkward and sad wedding in the history of forever. Sansa and Tyrion are finally getting married and basically everyone except Sansa and Loras uses this as an opportunity to act like assholes.
  • Tyrion shows up to talk to Sansa before the wedding and says a bunch of stuff about how he know’s how she feels. He doesn’t. Obviously. I feel a little bad for him because I think he’s genuinely trying to be reassuring by pointing out the advantages of her new station as a married woman. However, he ends up coming off as insensitive and a little too cavalier about the whole thing.
  • Joffrey uses the ceremony as an opportunity to humiliate both Sansa and Tyrion. Then, at the reception, Joffrey basically promises to rape Sansa, making it very clear that her marriage does not protect her the way Tyrion seems to think it does.
  • Margaery tries to be sisterly with Cersei, which prompts Cersei to tell us the story of the Reynes of Castamere. And then threaten to have Margaery killed.
  • Olenna sits openly mocking an unhappy Loras and Margaery about the confused relationships they’re about to marry into.
  • Tyrion gets wasted drunk and makes scene after humiliating scene while Sansa has to sit next to him and try not to cry or stab anyone.
  • Loras tries to make nice with Cersei, who is in rare form tonight, and get’s completely shut down.
  • Tywin makes it a point to have a go at Tyrion about his advanced state of inebriation and how that might affect his ability to consummate this marriage.
  • Shae stares daggers at Tyrion the whole time.
  • My only problem with the entire wedding sequence here is that they had Sansa kneel for Tyrion where, in the books, her refusal to do so was a wonderful example of her retaining her pride and self-respect in the face of months of abuse that have culminated in forced marriage into the family of her abusers. In the book, I was able to spare some sympathy for Tyrion’s humiliation here, but the way the show handled this left all of my feelings for Sansa. Tyrion might be unhappy, but, realistically, this marriage is largely beneficial to him no matter how much he might feel bad about it. Sansa gains nothing, not even basic security or protection against rape, and she has to deal with the mortification caused by Tyrion’s behavior at the feast to boot. I wish they had preserved her refusal to kneel, because no embarrassment she could have caused Tyrion would equal what he does to her.
  • The bedroom scene was handled well and managed to convey all the sadness and shame and frustration Tyrion and Sansa must be feeling with rather little dialogue. Sophie Turner deserves an award for her looks alone. She communicates an incredible amount of information without saying a word, as does Peter Dinklage who clearly telegraphs Tyrion’s struggle between his fear of Tywin, his sense of duty, his desire for Sansa, and his desire to not be a rapist. There’s just so much going on here, and it’s one of the rare times that I’ve felt this show handled a complex sexual situation with grace, subtlety and taste.
  • The episode is capped with a Sam and Gilly scene that starts off sweet and ends with an event that I’ve been waiting all season for. This pair, with baby in tow, is still on the run back to the Wall when they decide to stop for the night at an abandoned cabin in a terrifying forest. They talk about baby names, and Sam still can’t build a fire. Sam is called outside by the increasingly loud sounds of ravens in the tree next to the cabin, and he heads out with his sword and a torch to see what’s going on. A white walker has come for the baby, and Sam finds a shred of bravery to attack the monster, which instantly shatters Sam’s sword (with a somewhat cheesy special effect) and throws him out of the way. As the white walker advances on Gilly, Sam remembers the dragonglass knife he’s carrying and stabs the creature in the back. The white walker turns to ice and shatters, an effect that is definitely cool enough to make up for the kind of cheesy sword shattering. Sam and Gilly run off into the night, followed be a flock of screaming ravens. The dragonglass dagger, however–the one weapon we now know will defeat the white walkers–is left behind. Oh, Sam.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

This was kind of a weird episode. I was expecting to like it since it’s George R.R. Martin’s episode for this season, but I think it’s probably the weakest episode in season three. There’s an enormous amount of stuff going on in it, but at the same time it felt very long to me. There were some scenes that I really loved, but as a whole I ended up just feeling a little underwhelmed by “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.”

**Spoilers under the cut.**

  • The episode opens on Jon and Ygritte who are now trudging along south of the Wall. I loved the interaction between Jon and Ygritte in this episode, which surprised me since their romance has never been one of my favorites. However, it was nice to see their roles end up reversed a little. South of the Wall, Jon knows a lot more than Ygritte does. She’s never seen stone buildings, and she’s ignorant of the history of previous wildling attempts to attack the Wall. Amusingly, she also doesn’t know what “swooning” is, which was a nicely humorous exchange that balances the pretty obvious tragic foreshadowing going on here.
  • I didn’t like Orell’s declaration of lust/feelings for Ygritte. It felt like filler to me, and I think that minute or two of dialogue could have been better spent on advancing another storyline or something.
  • I did like sex ed with Tormund. I giggled, but again I think that was a bit that could have been cut in favor of something else more interesting.
  • Robb and Co. are caught in a storm on their way to the Twins for Edmure’s wedding. Apparently Talisa is going with Robb instead of staying at Riverrun, which I hope means what I really, really hope it does. Also, apparently Talisa’s pregnant. I know this scene is supposed to be sweet and emotional, but I really, really don’t like the substitution of Talisa for Jeyne. It’s the one change from the books to the show that I absolutely hate, and I’m ready for it to be over.
  • I think I like the handling of Sansa’s impending marriage in the show more than I did in the books, at least for the scenes with Sansa. Three scenes in this episode are dedicated to Sansa’s upcoming nuptials.
  • First is Sansa talking with Margaery, which I thought was an excellent scene. Sansa is frightened and upset and disappointed in herself for not seeing something like this coming. Margaery is delightfully pragmatic and encouraging, although I’m not sure how receptive Sansa is to Margaery’s advice to “make the best of things.”
  • Next up we find Tyrion complaining to Bronn, who doesn’t really understand Tyrion’s dilemma. Depending on how they shoot the actual wedding night, I think this scene might end up just being a superfluous bit of telling rather than showing. It is interesting, however, just how much Bronn’s perspective on Tyrion’s problems mirrors Margaery’s pragmatic advice to Sansa in the previous scene.
  • Finally, later in the episode, Tyrion is finally talking to Shae about the wedding, and Shae is (I think rightfully) pissed. Tyrion presents Shae with a costly gift, but what she really wants is security, which is one thing that Tyrion can’t really offer her. Instead, Tyrion seems to think that he can somehow live a double life, married to Sansa, but also building a family with Shae, and Shae knows that this is a fantasy that Tyrion can’t deliver.
  • Tywin has been summoned to Joffrey’s throne room for a long, dramatic walk (seriously, the throne room is huge) and a talk with his grandson. This might actually be my favorite scene of the episode, although I’m a little bothered that I feel like we’re being asked to feel sympathy for Joffrey after what he did in last week’s episode. Basically, Joffrey hasn’t been going to his Small Council meetings, and he’s upset that he isn’t more informed. Tywin explains that Joffrey is welcome to show up anytime, but in a way that makes it clear that Joffrey isn’t really welcome at all–especially when at the end of the discussion Tywin makes a point of telling Joffrey that he’ll be informed and consulted “when necessary” about matters deemed “important.” Joffrey is in many ways still a child, but show!Joffrey is old enough to be doing more actual ruling than his book counterpart. What we’re shown in this scene is that Joffrey is, while foolish and blustering, mostly king in name only. Even his (I think legitimate) concern about Daenerys and her dragons is dismissed by his controlling grandfather. Joffrey, in his way, wants to be a good king and is in desperate need of guidance, but when he asks for it he’s rebuffed and relegated to puppet-monarch status. It’s a weird scene, honestly, since the show has worked so hard to make Joffrey completely unlikable. I’m not sure why, at this point, they want to portray him in a sympathetic manner.
  • Speaking of Daenerys, she’s now in sight of the walls of Yunkai on her quest to be an awesome white savior and end slavery. Honestly, she’s so smug and arrogant when the representative from Yunkai comes to treat with her that I can’t wait for things to backfire on her. I don’t think the show has done as good a job as the books did of making it clear that Dany is supposed to be a criticism of the white savior trope, but this scene actually went a long way for me as far as dispelling any positive feelings I had about her actions. That said, judging by the number of Dany-celebratory GIFsets I’ve seen on Tumblr the last few days, I think this is still going over the heads of many television viewers. How much more insufferable do the showrunners have to make this character before people realize that we’re supposed to see her as a dangerous, colonizing mad person rather than a hero?
  • The dragons are beautiful, though.
  • Melisandre and Gendry are sailing through the remains of ships that sank on the Blackwater, and she tells him who his father is. We also learn a little more about Melisandre’s own history.
  • Arya is furious and miserable without her friends among a group of men she no longer trusts. Beric tries to reassure her and explain things, but Arya runs out of their cave lair only to be promptly captured by Sandor Clegane.
  • Theon is still being tortured. These scenes just make me increasingly uncomfortable every week. I don’t want to watch the process of Theon’s destruction at Ramsay’s hands. It was awful enough reading Theon’s chapters in A Dance With Dragons when I realized that he hadn’t just died after he lost Winterfell. No one deserves what happens to Theon, and it really bothers me that I feel like we’re expected to be titillated and entertained by it on the show.
  • Bran’s group is still on the move. Osha is getting increasingly anxious as they go farther north, but we find out why in this episode. She really, really wants to just take care of these children, and she’s terrified to go back north of the wall. The split in this group should happen soon, I guess, but I’m curious to see how that works out next season.
  • Jaime is leaving Harrenhal to return to King’s Landing, but he’s forced to leave without Brienne. Before leaving, he vows to Brienne that he’ll return Catelyn Stark’s daughters. On the road we learn more about Qyburn, who has been sent to King’s Landing with Jaime. Jaime learns that Brienne won’t be ransomed and returns to rescue her from Locke, only to find her in a pit fighting a bear with a wooden sword, which prompts Jaime to do something incredibly brave and stupid. My favorite part of this whole storyline in this episode is Brienne’s sort of bemused look at Jaime’s back as they are leaving Harrenhal for a final time. She’s so strong and self-reliant and she’s never been rescued before and she’s just confused about what just happened and why Jaime would do something so obviously stupid for her.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6 “The Climb”

This episode had some great scenes, a couple of which I absolutely loved, but it also had one of the most infuriating scenes that I’ve seen in two and a half seasons of this show.

**Spoilers (and anger) under the cut.**

  • Sam and Gilly are well away from Craster’s Keep, and apparently Sam can barely even build a fire. Their interactions here provide a sweet interlude and are part of a nicely done introduction to the episode’s biggest storyline, which is Jon and Ygritte climbing the wall. I’d just like to say, though, that Hannah Murray is perfect as Gilly. She has a wonderful sort of fragility, but at the same time it’s clear that she’s fierce and capable and has a lot of practical knowledge.
  • The other half of this episode’s introduction has us visiting Bran and company, where Meera and Osha are arguing over how to skin rabbits. Then Jojen has a vision of Jon Snow and we cut to the next scene. I actually could have done without this scene, and I think that it would have been a better segue to go straight from Sam telling Gilly about the Wall to Jon and Ygritte getting ready to climb it. I’m still really struggling to get invested in Bran’s story. In the books I didn’t really like it at all until A Dance With Dragons, and I’m finding it kind of equally boring on the show. I’d hoped that Jojen and Meera would breathe some life into the story, but nope. It’s still the most tedious road trip ever, and Meera and Osha’s sniping at each other isn’t making it any better.
  • The first scene with Jon and Ygritte in this episode made me believe their relationship more than any other scene in the show or books. Ygritte’s speech to Jon that they should take care of each other since they can’t trust lords or kings to take care of them was wonderfully delivered and made me feel a lot more emotionally invested in this pair. Later on, as they are actually climbing the Wall, this theory is put to the test, and they are literally cut loose by Orell, forcing Jon and Ygritte to struggle to the top on their own.
  • I loved the actual scenes of the climb up the Wall. It felt suitably epic, and I suspect that there were a couple of scary moments for people who haven’t read the books. The final shot of Jon and Ygritte standing on top of the Wall was a little over the top and edging into romance novel cover territory, but I liked it. I think we’ve been given a real sense of the scale of the Wall and what the stakes are for the Wildlings who are desperate to come south of it.
  • I enjoyed Arya’s archery lesson with Anguy. I think that showing Arya learning these skills on her journey is good. It always bothers me when characters in fantasy stories are just inexplicably good at fighting, so it’s nice to see that, for Arya, it’s a process that she’s really just beginning.
  • I was prepared to hate Melisandre showing up to retrieve Gendry (I was already pretty certain we won’t be getting Edric Storm), but this turned out to be surprisingly great. The interaction between Melisandre, Beric, and Thoros was a great way to show viewers a little more about all of these characters and their religion. Also, it was kind of amusing to see Melisandre, the lady who gave birth to a murderous shadow baby, get kind of freaked out when she sees Beric.
  • I’m quickly coming to dislike the Theon scenes as they’re starting to just be torture porn. In the books, Theon basically disappears for two books, and when we see him again it’s after he’s been tortured by Ramsay. It’s shocking, and the reader is moved to pity (hopefully) for Theon because no one deserves what happens to him. I understand why the show runners want to keep Theon around on the show, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m expected to be entertained by long, drawn-out scenes of Theon being tortured.
  • Robb negotiates with the Freys and Edmure makes an ass of himself. Brynden Tully is entertaining. Honestly, though, the Red Wedding can’t come soon enough.
  • Roose Bolton is becoming one of my favorite characters to watch, and this show does awkward dinner scenes wonderfully. Brienne is a ball of fury in the pink dress that Roose has picked to try and humiliate her. I love the interaction between Jaime and Brienne here as well. The evolution of their relationship to being something very like friendship is illustrated perfectly as she helps him cut his food and when she gently restrains her hand when she’s ready to leap across the table and stab Roose Bolton in the neck.
  • Olenna and Tywin together is a scene I’ve been anticipating all season, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.
  • Loras and Sansa are also awkward, but this is another surprisingly sweet scene. Sansa is so hopeful, and Loras is trying hard to be kind because (I think) he’s a fundamentally decent fellow. I did, however, catch that Loras said “French sleeves” which is a sloppy bit of writing. French anything doesn’t make any sense in a world with no France. (ETA: Upon reading other recaps, maybe it’s “fringed sleeves”? Still, it sounded like “French” both times that I watched the episode.)
  • Tyrion and Cersei are having a rare moment of solidarity as they ponder just how terrible things are going to be for everyone if they’re forced to marry Sansa and Loras. It’s the most vulnerable that we’ve seen either of these characters in a while, especially with each other. It was nice to see them both let their guard down a little and actually act like brother and sister as they’re united in the worry for Jaime and their fear of their father.
  • My heart broke a little for everyone when Tyrion went to break the news to Sansa.
  • Varys and Littlefinger talk in front of the Iron Throne, and it’s very, very bad. Littlefinger has found out Ros was spying for Varys and has had her killed. I can think of several reasons why this is a good time to think of getting rid of Ros on the show, but the way her death was written is disgusting and misogynistic. We don’t even get an actual scene with Ros. We get Littlefinger gleefully telling Varys how clever Littlefinger is for figuring things out and disposing of Ros–a “poor investment”. Then, we cut to a scene of Joffrey setting aside his crossbow, at which point the camera moves to rest on a very dead Ros, who is only partially clothed, tied to a bedpost, with crossbow bolts sticking out of her (including her crotch). This is probably the most egregious and sickening scene of sexualized violence that I’ve ever seen on this show, and it’s particularly upsetting that this is the way the writers chose to treat a character that viewers have come to know and care about. Ros has grown significantly as a character, especially this season, but in the end the show runners and writers reduced her to a plot device to further hammer home (just in case, I guess, that people haven’t paid attention so far) just how evil Littlefinger and Joffrey are. Even more insultingly, they reduced her to an object for Littlefinger to give, for Joffrey to destroy, and for the viewers of the show to ogle.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5 “Kissed by Fire”

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.
  • Poor Sansa.
  • 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?

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 4 “And Now His Watch is Ended”

“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.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 3 “The Walk of Punishment”

  • 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.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 2 “Dark Wings, Dark Words”

**Spoilers for Season 3, Episode 2**

  • 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.
  • Ugh, Talisa.
  • 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.

Watched: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 1 “Valar Dohaeris”

**Spoilers for Season 3, Episode 1**

  • 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.
  • I need some Jaime and Brienne. That is all.