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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x04: And Now His Watch Is Ended



I'll say this for the episode: shit is going down. Both Dany's big move and the virtual destruction of the Night's Watch felt like things that could have ended each of their storylines for a season (that is, I could have seen a season unfolding in which those two events were the culmination of both threads' season long arcs, and the last thing we saw of those threads before going into a break). Yet we're only in the fourth episode, which makes me even more excited for what's coming.

North of the Wall
Well, I suppose that's what happens when you're forced to stock your under-funded monastic order with criminals, degenerates, and unwanted sons of lords. And here I was just starting to think "all this Night's Watch stuff is starting to get terribly boring", moments before all hell broke loose. Of all the places I was expecting this storyline to go, this wasn't it.

I guess Jon won't be faced with as much of a moral dilemma as expected when he reaches the Wall in the company of the Wildlings, considering Mormont was pretty much Jon's strongest tie to the Watch (well, aside from Sam, but there's no reason he couldn't join up with the Wildlings at this point, or just go his own way, assuming he and Gilly survive that long) so even if some element of the Watch makes it back to the castle and tries to set up shop, it wouldn't be too hard for Jon to look at them and see that the Wildlings are the better horse to back.

As much as I wanted Crastor to bite it, I'm sad that Mormont had to go as well.

On the Road 
Jamie is smarting from losing his hand, and the show continues to effectively build sympathy for him by having him be essentially bullied by Locke and his men, and then having him receive a "tough love" speech from Brienne, pointing out that what's happening to him isn't all that worse than what's happened to plenty of non-nobles the world over.

We also learned Jamie was in fact lying about the genesis of the Sapphire Isles' name, meaning Locke is either ignorant or doesn't care. Either way, it appears that they're continuing to at least treat Brienne better than Jamie.

Even starved and left-handed, it was impressive how well Jamie held his own against Locke's men.   

Just a brief scene with Bran this week. He tried to catch his dream avatar (or whatever) but got interrupted by a vision of his mother.

The Secret Headquarters of the Brotherhood Without Banners
We met Beric Dondarrion (well, technically, he appeared briefly in the first season, but this is our first chance to really get to know him) and learn that he and his followers (remnants of Stark and Baratheon men) are worshippers of the same "one true god" as Melisandre. Last season I liked Stannis because he was actually doing something active to usurp Joffrey and claim his title, but he and Melisandre definitely came off as religious zealots, which painted their god in a negative light. But this group seems more down to earth and compassionate, which makes for an interesting contrast with what we've been told is happening on Dragonstone to "heretics", while also making the proceedings somewhat ominous for Arya and Gendry despite their apparent relative safety.

I was worried Beric was going to make Arya participate in the Hound's trial by combat. The Hound continues to be an intriguing character, for being so reprehensible yet still possessing his own code of honor, however twisted it may be.   

Kings Landing
It's good to know Tywin is an equal-opportunity dick, cutting down Cersei just as effectively as he previously had Tyrion (though, of course, it's much more fun to see him doing it to Cersei). I, for one, can't wait to see Tywin try and reign in Joffrey (it's something I've wanted to see since his arrival at Kings Landing last season), and hope he's at least marginally successful.

Margaery, meanwhile, is doing a masterful job of manipulating the little sociopath, and though her true intentions remain an unsettling mystery, it's still fun to watch.

The way Jack Gleason played Joffrey's little moment of "what is this hu-mon emotion?" as he waved to the crowd was hilarious.

Varys has been quiet most of this season, but the always enchanting Eunuch was back in a big way, as we learned his secret origin in a story with, I suspect, big implications on the future of the show (just in terms of the lesson it taught Tyrion).

Also, his genuine concern for Sansa is as touching as his comments about Littlefinger were troubling (and, based on what we've seen, accurate).

Wherever The Hell Theon Is Again
So I'm assuming that this whole "your sister sent me to rescue you" ruse was the Westeros version of good cop/bad cop? That is, whoever this group is captured Theon, tortured him, then pretended to release him in the hopes that while released, he'd reveal something he wouldn't have under torture. And given his confession in the tunnel, along with his apparent savior citing the Stark family motto, I'm starting to think this group is loyal to the Starks, and that perhaps Theon's men handed him over following their flight from Winterfell last season.

Assuming this was all just an elaborate ruse, you do have to wonder if those guys who tried to recapture Theon, then got killed, were in on it.

It took groping his sister, the ill-advised sacking of Winterfell, the death of two innocent boys, losing control of the city, elaborate torture and a near-rape, but Theon has finally realized that Ned was his true father, and that he never should have sided with Balon against Robb.

The Smoking Remnants of Astapor
What went down with Dany and the slaver wasn't exactly shocking; we'd all speculated, pretty much beat for beat, exactly what happened (all the while, I'm sure, book readers looked on, rolling their eyes). But that didn't make it any less exciting to watch Dany reveal she'd understood the slaver all along, order her army to purge the city of its slavers (while sparring the women and children) and command her dragon to roast the uppity slaver alive before burning the city to the ground. Despite everything playing out pretty much exactly how we'd suspected it would, it was still easily one of the show's biggest "f%@* yeah!" moments yet.

That sequence also did a marvelous job of cementing Dany as one of my favorite characters on the show, something that's more or less been accomplished in the span of three episodes. Not only has she become more fun to watch, but she's definitely taken a commanding lead in the "most worthy to rule" category, making it clear that she's willing to fight not only to reclaim her throne but to smite out injustice as well.

Other Thoughts
No Robb or Jon this week.

So Pod apparently has a large wang? I guess that answers that question, though I still wonder what the point of all that was.

Lady Olenna remains a delight. And Sansa, don't get too excited; even if this proposed wedding actually comes to pass, your marriage to Loras will be entirely ceremonial, I assure you.

Tywin: I don't distrust you because you're a woman. I distrust you because you're not as smart as you think you are.

7 comments:

  1. So I'm assuming that this whole "your sister sent me to rescue you" ruse was the Westeros version of good cop/bad cop? That is, whoever this group is captured Theon, tortured him, then pretended to release him in the hopes that while released, he'd reveal something he wouldn't have under torture.

    The horrible gleeful grin on Invisible Simon's face made me think he's just screwing with Theon. Which was a brilliant and horrible moment, though I don't understand how Theon didn't realise he'd been led round in a circle.

    Assuming this was all just an elaborate ruse, you do have to wonder if those guys who tried to recapture Theon, then got killed, were in on it.

    Given how annoyed the guy who got shot in the face was, I'd assume not. Besides, Invisible Simon's comments to the guards - "I've brought him back, he killed the others!" suggests he's doing this on his own for whatever reason, and the rest of Theon's captors have no idea.

    So Pod apparently has a large wang? I guess that answers that question, though I still wonder what the point of all that was.

    Seven Hells, I am furious about this. Not only because of the sheer amount of time this idiotic idea has taken up, but because a show already under fire for its use of female nudity should have enough sense not to introduce a "sometimes objectified and oppressed women secretly really like it" plot. It's desperately anti-feminist and completely goes against the idea that the show is supposed to be a "realistic" depiction of medieval life, dragons and White Walkers notwithstanding.

    Twenty demerits to all involved, as Professor Xavier might say.

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  2. @SpaceSquid: The horrible gleeful grin on Invisible Simon's face made me think he's just screwing with Theon.

    Good point. Couple that with him using the Stark motto, and maybe he's just a Stark loyalist, not the entire group, one who is screwing with Theon for what he did.

    I too wondered how Theon didn't realize he was being led in a circle, but then again, he's never been the sharpest tool...

    Not only because of the sheer amount of time this idiotic idea has taken up, but because a show already under fire for its use of female nudity should have enough sense not to introduce a "sometimes objectified and oppressed women secretly really like it" plot.

    Agreed. I can't decide which would be worse: the plot ending here and standing as is, uncomfortable gender politics in place, or continuing to be an ongoing thread throughout the season, which could potentially lead to a better resolution but take up even more time than it already has.

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  3. Good point. Couple that with him using the Stark motto, and maybe he's just a Stark loyalist, not the entire group, one who is screwing with Theon for what he did.

    This could also explain why Invisible Simon waited until Theon confessed that Bran and Rickon were alive before getting Theon back to the torture chamber. That info would be very welcome to the Starks.

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  4. Great writeup again!

    I'll say this for the episode: shit is going down.

    No kidding... We got ice, we got fire.

    Of all the places I was expecting this storyline to go, this wasn't it.

    I'm with you there. Not only did the anarchy surprise but so did the significant deaths — even though we've come to expect the unexpected on this show. RIP Jeor Mormont: I finally determined for sure just this episode that he was supposed to be connected to Dany's Ser Jorah Mormont, admiring the resemblance between the actors.

    This should be a lesson, by the way, that anytime you have a character bowing his head and talking in a quiet but insistent monotone with his eyes rolled up to stare out from under his brow shit is indeed going down.

    Also? Where Daenerys Targargyen is involved, shit is going down.

    Pretty much whenever you least expect it on Game of Thrones, in fact, you just might be a redneck and shit is going the hell down.

    Even starved and left-handed, it was impressive how well Jamie held his own against Locke's men. 

    Don't forget shock and blood loss!

    I, for one, can't wait to see Tywin try and reign in Joffrey

    Yeah; I really have no idea which way that's going to go — Tywin could easily find an immovable object, but it's possible that he'll realize the way to manipulate Joffrey is through Margaery. And whatever she's up to continues to be pretty awesome.

    Varys has been quiet most of this season, but the always enchanting Eunuch was back in a big way, as we learned his secret origin

    He may have had the ol' twigs 'n' berries cut off as a kid, but at least he finally has a dick in a box.

    So I'm assuming that this whole "your sister sent me to rescue you" ruse was the Westeros version of good cop/bad cop?

    In the extreme... Gits 'n' shiggles it was after all. Join us next week for more of the interminable physical and psychological torture of Theon Greyjoy!

    Theon has finally realized that Ned was his true father, and that he never should have sided with Balon against Robb.

    Did I miss something? All I took away from that scene in the tunnel was how he couldn't stop harping on how jealous he was of Robb.

    So Pod apparently has a large wang?

    My takeaway from that was, to invoke a Tom Jones album, it's not so much his lead as how he swung it. His innocence prompted him doing stuff the ladies weren't used to or something. Not that it makes what SpaceSquid is rightfully complaining about any better, I hasten to add.

    Lady Olenna remains a delight. And Sansa, don't get too excited; even if this proposed wedding actually comes to pass, your marriage to Loras will be entirely ceremonial, I assure you.

    I'm glad I wasn't missing something there, although it means that Margaery is being a bit of an underhanded snot to Sansa in that regard.

    So if the Brotherhood without Banners is loyal to the Starks, what does that bode for the chances of Hulk turning up in the next Iron Man movie?

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  5. @Blam

    Did I miss something? All I took away from that scene in the tunnel was how he couldn't stop harping on how jealous he was of Robb.

    He definitely said his "real father" (or maybe "true father") was actually Eddard, to all intents and purposes. I was more intrigued (though nervous) about Theon saying "You saw what they were doing to me?" when he learned Invisible Simon had seen him (or claimed to) leave the Iron Islands. What exactly were they doing to him...?

    I'm glad I wasn't missing something there, although it means that Margaery is being a bit of an underhanded snot to Sansa in that regard.

    Maybe Margaery figures that if Sansa hasn't been able to work out which side of the lists Loras tilts on by now, then she's too stupid to live, let alone feel bad about for manipulating.

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  6. @Blam: Great writeup again!

    Thanks!

    I finally determined for sure just this episode that he was supposed to be connected to Dany's Ser Jorah Mormont, admiring the resemblance between the actors.

    When I started reading the first book in the series, one of the first little fun surprises I encountered from reading it that I hadn't picked up from watching the show was the connection between those two.

    Tywin could easily find an immovable object, but it's possible that he'll realize the way to manipulate Joffrey is through Margaery.

    I'm with you; I have no idea how it's going to go down. Margaery proves it is possible to manipulate him, but at the same time, I could see Tywin being too arrogant to try and take the long route with his grandson.

    He may have had the ol' twigs 'n' berries cut off as a kid, but at least he finally has a dick in a box.

    Ha!

    All I took away from that scene in the tunnel was how he couldn't stop harping on how jealous he was of Robb.

    Yeah, he was still whining about Robb, but as Space Squid said, there was a line about Ned being his real father that I was keying off of: "My real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong."

    That felt like a big moment for the character, a realization he should have made back in the beginning of season two when he burnt that letter he intended to send to Robb warning him of Balon's intent to attack. So even though he's still jealous of Robb (as brothers can be), he's finally realized he backed the wrong horse, so to speak.

    My takeaway from that was, to invoke a Tom Jones album, it's not so much his lead as how he swung it.

    First, ha!, second, yeah, I've realized I misheard/misunderstood that scene a bit and that it is more about how he used it than the size. Either way, it's still confusing from a "where is this going/is this an actual plotline?" perspective and unfortunate from a gender politics perspective.

    So if the Brotherhood without Banners is loyal to the Starks, what does that bode for the chances of Hulk turning up in the next Iron Man movie?

    For that, you win the internet. :)

    @Space Squid: Maybe Margaery figures that if Sansa hasn't been able to work out which side of the lists Loras tilts on by now, then she's too stupid to live, let alone feel bad about for manipulating.

    I also took it to be a case of Margaery (and Olenna) figuring that a life of relative safety in Highgarden as Loras' beard is better than life in King's Landing as Joffrey's anything.

    And I imagine there's probably some political motivation that rises above Sansa's well being as well, wedding their family to the Starks in addition to their alliance with the Lannisters. That way, no matter who wins the Robb/Tywin war, the Tyrells are in a position to benefit.

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  7. @SpaceSquid: He definitely said his "real father" (or maybe "true father") was actually Eddard, to all intents and purposes.

    I'm not surprised that I did miss something, so I appreciate you guys pointing it out. When they were stopped at that sewer grate or whatever, I do recall Theon getting all mea culpa pensive about having killed and burnt a pair of peasant boys instead of Bran and Rickon, but I somehow zoned out on the larger Ned Stark stuff.

    @Teebore: And I imagine there's probably some political motivation that rises above Sansa's well being as well, wedding their family to the Starks in addition to their alliance with the Lannisters. That way, no matter who wins the Robb/Tywin war, the Tyrells are in a position to benefit.

    You make an excellent point.

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