Programming Note: These reviews will be written from the perspective of someone who has not read the books. So we’re not going to mention the books, at all, and would ask that the comments don’t either. Thanks to all you literate mofos in advance. Also it means I’m going to misspell some names.
A dangerously lax standard, in my opinion
We also only took a brief stop beyond the wall this week, without much that could be mistaken for narrative progression (and alas, no FUCKING GIANTS). Sam is still a liability, and Jon is still marching with the Wildlings, still finding new things to not know things about. This time it’s wargs, people who can possess animals. Gareth from The Office is one, as is young Brandon Stark.
Well, maybe not so young anymore. It’s a bit awkward that Bran’s voice has changed overnight (in story time), but such are the realities of making television, I suppose. We’ve known or suspected that he had such abilities for some time, so the bigger development on this front is the appearance of Jojen and Meera Reed, young siblings possessed of preternatural composure and in Jojen’s case, The Sight. I don’t know what’s in store for these new characters, but I worry for their safety once he’s taught Bran a little about how to warg it up; narratively speaking, how much use is there for two seers in one storyline? Bran and Rickon have never grabbed me too much as characters, so I hope that the new kids stick around and continue breathing some life and intrigue into that plotline.
But my own psychic powers say the
average gueststar has maybe 3 episodes
between introduction and brutal murder
I am glad to have The Hound in the mix again, though I’m a little confused as to his current position. He seems on almost friendly terms with the Brotherhood’s leader, but given their enmity of his House and their masters, I doubt they’ll just be sending him on his way. Which is great, because I want to see Arya and the Hound interact for at least a few episodes. He is on her official shit list for standing by while her father was killed, but he’s a fugitive too now and would actually make a natural progression in her string of martial mentors, from the largely academic exercises with her “dancing master” to the murderous but courteous and professional Jaquen, to this hulking beast who just likes killing because it’s what he’s good at. Of course, he’d say that was all it really was for the other guys anyway, whatever artsy terms they used to dress it up. And The Hound’s sentiment can be awfully hard to read, so who knows if any warm feelings he had for her sister that will carry over.
Speaking of the sister, Sansa gets some of the best scenes of the episode, although that’s mainly down to Diane Rigg’s straight-shootin’ Tyrell matriarch Olenna. She makes an immediate impression, disarming Sansa by running down her own family and appealing to her inherent Stark-ness, which compels the poor girl to honesty when every sensible cell in a person’s body should be screaming at them to just keep their mouth shut. It’s not even that I think the Tyrells mean her any particular harm, I’m just dead certain they will sell her out the very second there’s anything to be gained from it.
“I was too much woman for your grandfather in
the 60s. I am still too much for you now.”
The Tyrells make the biggest impressions of the episode, as the old lady is clearly a force to be reckoned with, and no wilting flower to judge by her drier-than-burnt toast reaction to the news that Joffrey is, to put it lightly, a monster. It’s hard not to love the old broad right away, and as much as I’d like to see some of the badass warriors the show has accumulated face off against each other, right now the clash I’m most eager to see is the epic snipe-off sure to ensure when she meets Varys. Her granddaughter, meanwhile, gets the most unsettling scene, as she quickly adapts her seduction attempts with Joffrey to his particular lusts, which are less sexual and more sadistic. I like Marge, I think, but she has very quickly revealed herself to be a serious contender for most dangerous person in King’s Landing, no mean feat with the likes of Tywin, Bron and Cersei slinking about.
Ah, isn’t that…stomach-turning?
But the episode, in contrast to the last one, saves the best for last, with the latest installment of Jaime and Brienne’s odd couple road show. I love this stuff, as Gwendolyn Christie and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau have a mismatched chemistry that brings a completely different tone to their scenes than the rest of the show, in the best way possible. Plus it gives us a chance to see two of those badasses I was talking about throw down, a treat we had been denied since Jaime and Ned dueled early in season 1. Jaime is not at his best, of course, being manacled and having spent a good portion of his time lately lashed to a post and shitting in his pants. But it’s a great bit of fight choreography anyway with some nice character shading with how she is all business while he can’t stop needling her even when he’s losing.
In a way, they both lose the fight, as before Brienne can re-secure her prisoner, they are found by a hunting party of House Bolton, Robb’s most ruthless bannermen, who were tipped off by a passerby that Brienne was not ruthless enough to murder just in case he went and did exactly that. This is bad news for both their plans. But good news for me, because it will keep them on the road together a bit longer, preserving what is currently my favorite dynamic on the show.
Is it next Sunday yet? Oh, come on!