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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x02: Dark Wings, Dark Words



On the Road
Lots of people on one road or another this week, trying to get from one place to another without being discovered, as the show catches us up with Arya and Jamie. The former, along with Gendry and Hot Pie, run into the Brotherhood Without Banners which, if I'm piecing it all together, is the rebellious group the Mountain (brother of the recently-captured Hound) and the Lannisters were trying to defeat last season using Harrenhal as their base of operations (the rat torturer guy was trying to find out information about the Brotherhood), and it consists of remnants of the force which Ned dispatched in the first season to stop the Hound from pillaging villages.

I assume the book goes into more detail concerning what happened to the Hound between last season and getting captured, but hopefully the show might touch on a few things itself.

Gendry and Hot Pie's discussion with Arya about how she should have asked Jaqen to kill somebody important, like Joffrey or Tywin, is probably another wink at the audience (I certainly remember saying the same thing last season), though an answer as to why she didn't would be nice. 

I was a little disappointed that Arya's sword fighting skills were so lackluster; I didn't expect her to win, or really even hold her own, but it would have been nice if she could have at least held onto the sword for a bit. What would poor departed Syrio think?

In other sword fighting happenings, the showdown between Jamie and Brienne was a nice bit of action direction. I appreciated being given the opportunity to see both of them display their skills for the other, and everything in that regard was wisely underplayed (there's a moment where you can see on Jamie's face the realization that this woman is actually pretty good, maybe even better than him, but the show doesn't ruin it by having him verbalize it).

I'm also, despite myself, getting a kick out of Jamie's banter with Brienne, his never ending attempts to needle her. Though I do wonder what Brienne expects to happen when they show up at King's Landing. It seems to me that the Lannisters would just grab Jamie and toss her in a cell (if not kill her outright), not actually bargain with her about anything, let alone actually turn Sansa over to her.

If I'm understanding things correctly, I believe that was Roose Bolton's bastard who captured Jamie and Brienne at the end, the guy who was dispatched to check on Winterfell and sent a message back to Robb earlier in the episode.    

Meanwhile, Robb continued to do anything but continue the war with the Lannisters. It's kind of sad, because at the end of the first season and beginning of the second, Robb's scenes were some of my favorite, but now I find myself siding more and more with his Bannermen: quit fooling around with Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter and get back to waging war!

I continue to find Catelyn largely insufferable as well. Her story about Jon was effective, and well played (especially after reading the first book, which made apparent just how much she didn't like him), but I still find it funny (and kind of sad) that she's trying to pin the blame of everything that's happened to her family on that moment, rather than her more active screw-ups, like capturing Tyrion in the first season and releasing Jamie last season.  
 
Winterfell (or Thereabouts)
We finally feet Jojen and Meera Reed, who are characters that despite having not read more than the first book I understand to be fairly big deals (kinda like how I knew about the Governor and Michonne on Walking Dead before they showed up despite not reading the comic).

I obviously have no idea what's in store for them, but I took an immediate liking to Jojen just for being straight-forward about Bran's abilities. We'd already pieced together that he was a Warg thanks to the scenes north of the wall, but Jojen provided a little extra explanation, as well as confirmation that the three-eyed crow in Bran's dreams represents Bran, which is always appreciated. There's still plenty of questions surrounding Bran and the Reeds (how does one become a Warg, where are they headed now and what is Bran's overall arc being chief amongst them), but for the first time ever, I'm excited about Bran's story. 

North of the Wall
Not much of significance here. More testing of Jon's loyalties, more badassery from Lord Mormont, and that whole Warg business that foreshadowed Bran's story. 

King's Landing
I'm continuing to enjoy the heck out of Maergery. Her seduction of Joffrey in this episode was one of the best scenes of the season so far. The way Maergery played Joffrey so thoroughly was a thing of beauty.

That said, as much as I'm liking Margaery, I'm a little worried about how far she'd be willing to go to appease Joffrey in the interest of becoming queen; it's one thing to manipulate him into liking/trusting her, but how much of Joffrey's inherent cruelty is she willing to actively participate in/entertain in the interest of gaining power?  

Her grandmother is pretty badass too; there's something strangely powerful about a character who has no interest in playing the game of politics and is, frankly, old enough that death isn't much of a threat. All the usual tools of leverage used in this society are more or less ineffective against her, so she can pretty much say and do what she wants, which is ridiculously refreshing. She even managed to break through Sansa's carefully constructed facade, even if only for a moment, and hearing Sansa finally admit to what Joffrey is was similarly refreshing.

I'm continuing to love watching Cersei flail about, desperate to maintain her power over Joffrey in the wake of Margaery's arrival (contrast her attempts to sow doubt in him early in the episode with the way Margaery later effortlessly assuages those doubts, then endears herself to him even further). It's not quite the comeuppance Cersei deserves, but it's still fun to watch. 

Wherever the Hell Theon Is 
This episode made apparent the problem with grouping these posts by locations: it doesn't work so well if you don't know where a given character is. So it is that we catch up with Theon after his failed attempt to capture (and hold) Winterfell last season, as he's tortured for information he doesn't have by persons unknown (at least, they seemed unknown to me). Presumably, his men (who knocked him out before abandoning Winterfell) turned him over to this group (I hope they were paid the iron price), and though it looks like he'll be escaping soon thanks to a mole of his sister's, hopefully we'll learn a bit more about his circumstances before he does.

Other Thoughts
No Daenrys this week, which is a shame (something I'd never have said last season), or Stannis. I think just about all the other major characters were covered (Tywin obviously didn't appear, but we checked in on things at King's Landing). Also while he's not a major character, I miss Varys, who has yet to appear this season.

Like Sansa, Bran was hit by the puberty stick between seasons, though it's slightly more problematic for him since "becoming a woman" wasn't one of his plot arcs last season. Thankfully, his growth spurt is mitigated by the fact that the character spends most of his time lying down, quasi-prophetic dreams aside, making it a little easier to suspend disbelief regarding his apparent age. 

9 comments:

  1. To be fair to Arya, she was trained using Needle, a sword made and balanced for a girl her size and considerably smaller and lighter than the blade she was wielding.

    I have never understood, absent the actor's modesty, why torturers always leave the pants on their male victims and Theon's already had his bits out twice.

    I'm also liking the Brienne/Jaime interactions and expect that they'll end up together at some point. One more thorn in Cersi's side.

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  2. @Anonymous: she was trained using Needle, a sword made and balanced for a girl her size and considerably smaller and lighter than the blade she was wielding.

    I know. It makes sense that she got the sword knocked out of her hand. I still would have liked her to hang on for at least one strike.

    I'm also liking the Brienne/Jaime interactions and expect that they'll end up together at some point.

    I hadn't really considered them ending up together, but I like the idea. Especially, as you say, for the effect it would have on Cersei.

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  3. Good points all around. We were pissed Arya couldn't hold onto the sword too. I mean, i don't have any sword training, but i think i could keep my grip.

    Also we laughed when Jaime told Brienne not to scowl before striking since it gives her away, then immediately puffs out out his cheeks as he goes to strike at her.
    But that choreography was very nicely done

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  4. @Sarah: Also we laughed when Jaime told Brienne not to scowl before striking since it gives her away, then immediately puffs out out his cheeks as he goes to strike at her.

    Ha! I totally missed that. On most shows I'd say this idea is preposterous, but I wonder if that wasn't intentional, to further show that Jamie and Brienne are similar/evenly matched?

    It's a small detail, but with this show, I could see someone thinking to put it in there intentionally.

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  5. if I'm piecing it all together

    You know/remember way more about this stuff than I do. I'm not gonna get to read the books any time soon and I can't spare the hours to rewatch previous episodes, so I've just surrendered myself to a lot of the contextual detail. When Season Two began I was just glad to be able to tell Jon Snow and Robb Stark apart.

    Case in point: I have no idea if you're kidding with calling that guy Hot Pie or if that's actually his nickname in-story. [NB: I've since read the recap at Nikki's and see he is in fact known as Hot Pie.]

    I was a little disappointed that Arya's sword fighting skills were so lackluster

    No kidding. I was expecting the play against the audience's expectations (or at least against the usual trope) to be that she wasn't magically brilliant, not that she couldn't last a millisecond.

    I'm also, despite myself, getting a kick out of Jamie's banter with Brienne, his never ending attempts to needle her.

    Agreed.

    Though I do wonder what Brienne expects to happen when they show up at King's Landing.

    Huh. I figured that she was making her way back to wherever she thought Catelyn was so that Catelyn had Jamie to use as a bargaining chip to get her daughters back. Like I said, I'm fuzzy on the details. Agreed on Robb and Catelyn, though, too, although I did appreciate that story about Jon.

    We'd already pieced together that he was a Warg

    Is that what he is? You can blame the British accents, plus of course my not having read the books, for me thinking they were all saying "Wog". 8^)

    Her seduction of Joffrey in this episode was one of the best scenes of the season so far.

    My favorite part of that was how laughably earnest-but-thinking-he's-cool Joffrey was and him probably not even getting his own subtext. "Do you like my crossbow? Huh? Do you?" was bad enough. "Do you want to hold it? Watch it shoot with uncanny aim!" Sheesh.

    You're right though about us getting a different perspective on her than her charity in the previous episode, despite a sense that she was doing that for reasons beyond simply acting humane or even ingratiating herself to the public on behalf of the monarchy so that she'd be harder for Joffrey or Cersei to get rid of. Her conversations with Joffrey and with Sansa both had me concerned about how mercenary she might be in terms of the ends justifying the means — and that assumes that her ends are in fact benign.

    I'm continuing to love watching Cersei flail about, desperate to maintain her power over Joffrey in the wake of Margaery's arrival

    There's a small part of me that wonders when she's going to think, "Great. Not only did I have to sleep with that fat boor Robert Baratheon to become queen and make my son heir to the Iron Throne, but now I'm going to have to seduce my son on top of it all."

    Wherever the Hell Theon Is 

    I love it.

    Grandmother Mrs. Peel: "Once the cow's been milked, there's no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through. What do you say to that, Lady Sansa?"

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  6. I'm also liking the Brienne/Jaime interactions and expect that they'll end up together at some point. One more thorn in Cersi's side.

    Well, Jaime did say he's never cheated on his sister. Mind you, it has been an absolute minimum of one year/seventeen episodes since he was last laid...

    Though I do wonder what Brienne expects to happen when they show up at King's Landing

    Well, it's at least arguable that Brienne thinks she's living on borrowed time anyway. With Renly dead she may just be looking for a way to give her life as gloriously as possible. Showing up at the Red Keep and shouting "Hand over Sansa and Arya or I chop the Kingslayer's head off!" isn't a plan that's massively likely to work (particularly given how hideously uncaring Joffrey is), but if she ends up getting her bluff called, executing Jaime and dying as she takes on every Lannister guardsman east of the God's Eye is probably the kind of way she'd like to go.

    Especially if she figures the Lannisters had a hand in the shadow assassin. I can't remember whether she's figured Stannis was responsible or not.

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  7. @Blam: You know/remember way more about this stuff than I do.

    To be fair, I'm really remembering the intentionally-vague conversation I had with my brother (who has read all the books) last season about the Brotherhood when Arya first showed up in Harrenhal. It also helps that I'm about 3/4 of the way done with the first book, so Ned sending out the force that becomes the Brotherhood Without Banners didn't happen that long ago in my memory (as opposed to when I saw it on the show, which was much longer ago).

    I've since read the recap at Nikki's and see he is in fact known as Hot Pie

    I only know that's his name because of the internet. I had him as "Tubby" in my notes before I read a recap that called him Hot Pie.

    I figured that she was making her way back to wherever she thought Catelyn was so that Catelyn had Jamie to use as a bargaining chip to get her daughters back.

    That's part of what made what Catelyn did so stupid: Robb had Jamie, and could have brokered an exchange for his sisters, but since he couldn't do that and hold his army together, Catelyn took it upon herself to free Jamie and send him to King's Landing with Brienne, as though the Lannisters would just hand over the girls to some random woman who showed up with Jamie.

    You can blame the British accents, plus of course my not having read the books, for me thinking they were all saying "Wog"

    And I'll once again credit the internet, cuz I was similarly unsure if they were saying "warg" or "wog".

    Her conversations with Joffrey and with Sansa both had me concerned about how mercenary she might be in terms of the ends justifying the means

    Ditto. That's my big reservation about a character I'm otherwise really enjoying (not that having that reservation is a bad thing - never hurts to keep us on our toes).

    "Great. Not only did I have to sleep with that fat boor Robert Baratheon to become queen and make my son heir to the Iron Throne, but now I'm going to have to seduce my son on top of it all."

    Ha! Sadly/hilariously, I wouldn't put it past her...

    @SpaceSquid: Well, it's at least arguable that Brienne thinks she's living on borrowed time anyway. With Renly dead she may just be looking for a way to give her life as gloriously as possible.

    That's a good point. We haven't really gotten inside her head too much yet, but I could see that being the case.

    I can't remember whether she's figured Stannis was responsible or not.

    Nor can I, now that you mention it.



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  8. That's part of what made what Catelyn did so stupid: Robb had Jamie, and could have brokered an exchange for his sisters, but since he couldn't do that and hold his army together, Catelyn took it upon herself to free Jamie and send him to King's Landing with Brienne, as though the Lannisters would just hand over the girls to some random woman who showed up with Jamie.


    I take the point, but actually this is (for once) a little unfair regarding the Lannisters. If Brienne shows up and says "Lady Catelyn Stark and I freed Jaime, and you are therefore in our debt", the Lannisters would honour that - and remember Catelyn thinks they've already agreed to the swap (which doesn't mean she's not stupid to trust Littlefinger).

    The problem here isn't the Lannisters (well, it is, but he doesn't know that), it's Joffrey Baratheon. There's every chance he would muck up a hostage exchange just because he could, and having had her husband die at his command, you'd think Cat would have worked that out.

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  9. @SpaceSquid: The problem here isn't the Lannisters (well, it is, but he doesn't know that), it's Joffrey Baratheon. There's every chance he would muck up a hostage exchange just because he could, and having had her husband die at his command, you'd think Cat would have worked that out.

    Yeah, when I say "the Lannisters", I pretty much mean Joffrey, even though I know that's not technically true nor entirely fair.

    So yeah, while I could see someone like Tywin honoring a prisoner exchange, I just see Brienne showing up and Joffrey ordering his guards to kill her outright.

    Good point also about Cat thinking this exchange had been agreed to already; I'd forgotten about that.

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