And we’re off and running with some Game of Thrones. I’m still one of those who doesn’t want to read the books because I enjoy being totally surprised and delighted by the show, so I have no idea where any of this is going. Last week Devin told us that LOTS of things are happening this season, but I don’t know how much later in the season we’ll get before things start going crazy. This episode was mostly talking, and there were no boobies, no dragons, and no one was murdered. But we did get a little bit of gross torture, so that’s cool, and fortunately there was plenty of political intrigue and a lot of moving people into position for battles that will undoubtedly come later.
And we also got a lot of Stark storylines, which reminded me of season one when I thought this was really going to be a show about the Starks until they beheaded Ned and I didn’t know who to root for (except that it would never, ever be Joffrey). So let’s check in on all of our northerner friends:
The episode opens with Bran having a dream where he can run and walk and he tries to shoot a three-eyed raven, but he misses and then the kid from Love, Actually tells him that the raven is him.
Later that kid finds him in the woods, either using psychic powers or the same tracking skills he once used as a boy to chase that girl in the airport with Liam Neeson, and he explains to Bran that the way he dreams he’s in his wolf’s head means that he’s a warg, who will eventually be able to control his entry into animals' minds, and that the three-eyed bird means he can have visions of things. The Love, Actually kid had had visions of Bran, so he sought him out, and now they’re going to walk together for a while.
Jon Snow doesn’t have much to do in this episode, but as he’s walking with Mance and learning about how he was able to unite a bunch of different clans he also meets a warg and we get to see what that means, and what Bran’s future could look like (lots of rolling his eyes into the back of his head, apparently).
Both of those plotlines really appear to just be introducing this concept of warging to us, making it clear that we’ll be getting more warg fun as the season progresses. I imagine Bran gets really great at entering Summer’s mind a lot and running and having all sorts of cool adventures.
Clearly there’s a lot about the rules of magic in Westeros that I don’t fully understand yet. But they took the time to explain this in a way they never did when they kept talking about the dragon eggs, so we can expect some sort of big pay off. With the dragon eggs I kept expecting Daenarys to get screwed over and burn up, though, then BOOM there can be dragons in this world. So now there are also wargs. Can a warg also enter a dragon’s mind, or is a dragon too magical and not just an animal? I have no idea.
ROBB STARK & LADY STARK
Their storylines were mostly set up for our main members of Team Stark as well. Robb is making out with his wife by a fire when they’re interrupted with two sets of bad news – Winterfell was burned down, and Catelyn Stark’s father in Riverrun has died. They don’t know what happened to Bran yet, but Robb hopes he escaped.
Then they set off for Riverrun to bury Lady Stark’s dad, and along the way she makes a dream catcher thingy to protect Robb, and she and Talisa have a chat about how the whole reason all of this misery has befallen the Stark family is because Lady Stark wasn’t able to love a motherless child as her own.
Throughout that scene I just wanted to give her a big hug and remind her that really this horror that has befallen their family is all because Joffrey is a little shit with too much power and that the Lannisters are a bunch of egotistical fucktards that need to be killed, and that it didn’t matter how much she loved any baby from anywhere, none of that would be any different.
Talisa just stood there listening to her, though, and offered none of that encouragement and no hugs. And now her dad is dead, too, so I’m not sure if things will ever be rosy for Lady Stark ever again, and that sucks.
Speaking of Theon, we’ll take a break from the Starks for a minute to talk about the Stark betrayer's adventures this episode. He didn’t have much to do in this one, but we are reminded that there are many different letters that can be used to crucify people, and we were probably really close to having lots of Christian kids wearing X's on their necklaces today except that the Romans wanted to torture Jesus in more of a T shape rather than the X shape that Theon's captors seem to prefer. Apparently there were also Y-shaped crucifixions back in the day as well, in case you were curious.
Anyway, Theon is tortured on this X for a bit, and we get our most gruesome moment of the episode when his captor pushes some needle deep into his finger or something, and they keep yelling at him and asking him why he attacked Winterfell. He screams out a few different reasons, but ultimately he confesses that he hates the Starks and wanted them to pay for what they’d done to him, and everyone is happy with that and they leave the room. That’s when the janitor comes over and says that his sister sent him there to totally save him, but they have to wait until later when the castle sleeps.
And that’s all he really gets this episode, which is fine by me. Maybe we get another cool big moment later in the season, or next season, or something, but I’m kind of bored with Theon now. I loved his storyline in season 2, and I like the external shots of the Iron Islands. I could watch his sister Yara use a bunch of ships to get into a naval battle with Daenerys and her dragons, but I don’t need Theon to help me get there.
Maybe he can escape and serve with Joffrey for a while, just to make it more satisfying when they’re both killed together, but yeah, if Theon is just left to rot on this X forever I'm fine with never checking in on him again.
BRIENNE & JAIME LANNISTER
Brienne and Jaime get a lot of screen time, but even though they have a great sword fight on a bridge they still don’t have too much action happening for them yet.
They walk through the woods for a while, she watches him pee, and he has one of the best lines in the show when he’s talking about Renly and says, “It’s a shame the throne wasn’t made of cocks – they’d never have gotten him off of it.” BURN!
Brienne manages to keep her cool, but when they come to a bridge Jaime acts like he’s tired and whines about his corns in order to trick her into getting close enough so he can steal her sword. They seem evenly matched for a bit, but only because Brienne doesn’t want to kill The Kingslayer and betray her Lady, so she has to kick his ass with her non-sword hand.
Fortunately she’s really, really good at kicking his ass.
Unfortunately she didn’t kill that dude with a horse that saw them in the woods earlier and he recognized Jaime from some wedding he went to once, so now they’re going to get captured by Noah Taylor. I liked that they had that throwaway line where Noah Taylor asked the old man with the horse cart if he's sure and then we found out why he recognized Jaime, because when they first saw him in the woods and Jaime got all suspicious and said, "He knows who I am," all I could think about was how anyone would recognize people from halfway across the continent in this world. They don't have photos or gossip magazines or blogs or anything, and while they could certainly have paintings and portraits we haven't seen anything like that, and I still wouldn't expect peasants with horse carts to spend a lot of time studying them. So how do they recognize The Kingslayer? From that one wedding they went to once. Cool. Got it.
So now Noah Taylor takes Brienne and Jaime captive, and he's going to take him back somewhere to be beheaded, which will totally make sense and be a just end to a total prick, but I’ll be sad if we lose his constant attempts to escape through the use of nothing but charming banter. I love charming banter! Which is why I’ve never pursued a career in prisoner transport; I would be terrible at that kind of thing.
I think he says he’s going to take them to Riverrun, though, and we know that's where Lady Stark and Robb are headed, and it’s where Arya wanted to go, too. So we should be in for a pretty great episode at Riverrun later on in the season, when all of our Stark team is gathered there for different reasons.
Arya mentions that they should head to Riverrun while she, Gendry and Hot Pie are walking around lost in the woods and Gendry is giving her shit for not asking Jaqen to kill someone more meaningful like, I don’t know, mmm… JOFFREY??
Of course, Arya didn’t know exactly how much of a magical badass Jaqen was when she gave him various names, but I’m glad her friends called her out on that shit because I’d been wanting to ask her the same thing for months now.
As they’re discussing that and talking about whether they were headed in the right direction, they’re discovered by another group of soldiers or something that calls themselves the Brotherhood Without Banners. Their leader is super curious as to how they escaped, so he takes them to a pub for ale and stew to hear their story, like you do when you meet people who have escaped from a nearby castle.
I didn’t catch that guy’s name, but he gave us another of the great lines of the episode: “There’s no story so good a drink won’t make it better." And around the country everyone drinking that new Game of Thrones beer from Ommegang let out a cry and toasted to each other and their fondness for good stories and good drinks.
Then he teases Arya some more, she draws her sword on him, he disarms her, but also says they can go. And they’re just about to leave when that pesky archer returns with a new prisoner with a hood over his face. And who is that big fellow they’ve captured? Why it’s Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, aka the bodyguard of Joffrey up until the Battle of Blackwater when he deserted his post because he was (understandably) scared of fire.
Arya tries to slink by, but Sandor sees her and totally calls her out on it. “What are you doing with a Stark girl?” he asks the leader of the Brotherhood. She makes a face that’s all, “Um… Uh… I mean…” but she doesn’t run or anything.
So hopefully she and her little group will hang out with the Brotherhood for a bit and they’ll all find some random reason to go to Riverrun, too. Then they can have a fun fight at the next Stark family reunion.
Admittedly, that would be a little too convenient, but most of this storyline had a little too much convenience in it and left me with a lot of questions:
How did the archer first see the trio hiding behind the wall?
Why did he know that Gendry and Hot Pie were there as well after Arya came out to talk to them?
How awesome was that moment when the archer shot his arrow up in the air and it almost landed on Hot Pie’s head?
Why did the leader want to talk to them so badly but then didn’t really care when he didn’t get any real answer out of them?
And how and why did the archer find Sandor and capture him? Who the hell are these people?
Although now that I look at all of those questions written out, it’s pretty clear that a lot of them are about the archer. So maybe there’s more magic that I don’t understand yet, and maybe the archer is like Longshot from the X-Men and has the mutant ability to get into overly convenient situations that move the story along, and that mutant ability will be all we need to get Arya and her friends to Riverrun for the big fun time.
That would be kind of stupid, but I’m okay with that. I love Arya, and I want to see what happens when she gets back together with a larger clan and doesn’t have to – or no longer can – hide who she is.
So those are all of our Stark friends! What about the Lannisters?
Tyrion really has nothing to do in this episode. Maybe they’re setting up that Shae is taking unnecessary risks by coming to visit him just because she’s worried about Littlefinger, but as Tyrion says, “Duh. Who isn’t worried about Littlefinger? Didn’t you watch The Wire? That Carcetti guy is a slippery motherfucker!”
Then they argue about Tyrion being perverted or not and Shae gives him a blowjob while he talks about how dangerous the city is.
Really I think that entire scene was just put in because Peter Dinklage is the best thing ever, and everyone knows it, and not having him in an episode of Game of Thrones would be like not having marshmallows in Rocky Road ice cream, and no one would buy that shit.
JOFFREY, CERSEI AND ALL THEIR KINGS LANDING CREW
Here’s where all the big fun political intrigue really sets in. Margaery Tyrell is working several angles to help her become a successful queen, and she seems to really enjoy playing the game (of thrones) much more than someone like Cersei. She’s a bit like a female Tyrion, except that instead of having a physical form she has to fight against she’s got one that she can flaunt.
Cersei seems to be catching on to her and tries to warn Joffrey while he’s trying on new coats and yelling at his tailor that he hates flowers. “She dresses like a harlot like a reason,” she tells him. “You need to-“
“I don’t need to do anything!” Joffrey yells, then he stomps around the castle for three hours yelling out “I’m the king! King king king! I do what I want because that’s what I do and stuff! Everybody look at me and do what you’re told!”
Then he comes back and tells Cersei, “She married that traitor because that’s what women do – what they’re told!”
And Cersei thought to herself, “Oh fuck, what did I get myself into. Why did I put this shithead on the throne? He’s totally fucked up, and now I wonder if maybe incest leads to an increased risk of dickishness in offspring.”
Meanwhile, the harlot Margaery takes Sansa to sit down and have lemon cake with her grandma, the Lady Olenna Tyrell, aka My New Favorite Lady on the Show.
Olenna has asked Sansa there to find out more about who Joffrey really is, presumably so she and Margaery can figure out how to play him like a fiddle and how to not get beheaded. But Sansa is rightfully terrified of talking about the king who killed her father, so Olenna has to get her all comfortable by sitting in a nice gazebo on a balcony, eating lemon cake, and talking about how her clan never should have gotten involved in the whole game (of thrones) in the first place.
That’s when she delivers the #1 Line of Dialogue in the Entire Episode:
“But once the cow’s been milked there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through.”
I love love love her. I hope she and Tyrion can get together for a while and rule over some land in the kingdom where Jaime is held captive. Then they’ll watch him use his charming banter attempts at escape, but they’ll cunningly charm him back and it will just be the best of the best.
At any rate, Margaery finds out that Joffrey is a monster because Sansa can’t help but get all angry when she talks about how he had her dad beheaded, and apparently she uses that to her advantage when he calls her back to his chamber to try to give her shit and follow up on some of his mom’s worry.
He’s sitting there stroking his new crossbow when she enters, and it quickly becomes clear that the main purpose of his calling Margaery there before his hunting trip was to ask her what it was like to sleep with a traitor. But she tells him that she didn’t really get to sleep with him much, because he didn’t seem to like the company of women.
“Whenever I wanted to make a child with him, he had so many excuses, so many late night war councils. He never wanted to try, except one evening, after he’d had far too much wine to drink, he suggested something… something that sounded very painful and couldn’t possibly have resulted in children.”
Joffrey says that he was a well known degenerate, and then talks about how he wants to make that particular perversion punishable by death, and he screams out, "No homo!"
Well timed, HBO! While so many people on my Facebook feed are wondering how long they have to wait before changing their profile pic back to their face or something instead of the equality sign to show solidarity with gays and lesbians while the Supreme Court keeps not just making love legal already, you go and show exactly what kind of person is against homosexuals – Joffreys. Because that's the kind of person who's against the idea of people loving whomever they want to - Joffreys.
If anyone can still be uncomfortable with gay marriage after realizing that that makes them Joffrey then they are just total lost causes, and I hope they hang out with Joffrey and Theon in Suckville forever.
Margaery is unphased, though, and gets to have a creepy little sexy moment with her king while she talks about his crossbow and how thrilling it must be to squeeze something over here and make something die over there.
“Do you think I could kill something?” she asks.
“Yes,” he almost whispers.
“Do you want to watch me?”
We know Margeary is playing to win power, but I don’t fully understand what her end game is with Joffrey. Is she dangerous to him? Does she not care about him but just needs to keep him in his place a little bit? Or will she shoot him in the eyeballs with a crossbow at the Stark family reunion in Riverrun?
I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.
And then there was one more little story!
He gets teased and called fat while marching with the Night’s Watch. He falls to his knees and cries. A couple of guys come back and help him up. The leader of the watch gets all bossy and says, “I forbid you to die.” Then he makes Russ, the dude who was teasing him, personally responsible for Sam’s survival. “If he doesn’t survive, then you don’t either.”
And so they walk on some more, because that’s what you do when you’re in super cold weather like that.
But yeah, all in all, a pretty great episode! Lots of set up, but plenty of great one-liners, a ton of fun, and oh man am I excited for whatever the heck happens at Riverrun.
Of course, none of that will matter in the long run, because while all of these Starks and Lannisters and Tyrells are bickering and fucking each other and then bickering about who and how they fucked each other, Daenarys is wandering around with growing dragons and working to get a massive army of crazy people. And there’s a horde of white walker zombie thingies that are tired of not killing everyone south of the wall.
And of course winter is coming, too, so most of these characters are in for a lot of trouble.
Winter is coming, but next Sunday isn’t coming fast enough at all…