In this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, HBO’s wondrous fantasy epic, plotting is put somewhat on the back burner as some of the characters who have been permitted little screen time throughout this season get more fleshed out. The title suggests that the episode is about characters and that’s what we get, as loyalties begin to fray and rivalry is pushed strongly to the fore.
We start out in the kingdom of Winterfell, where Theon is now the residing power after the crippled Bran Stark turned over the leading duties to him. This has now gone to his head and he is getting himself deeper and deeper into a mess that he cannot control. He chose to turn is back on the Starks to keep the honour of the Greyjoy family, which put Bran and Rickon on the run. Theon’s leadership skills are being questioned as he resorts to strong violence to sort out feuds though he still leads the hunt for the Stark kids.
We then see Bran and Rickon who find refuge in a farm hoping to find food and shelter. However, luck isn’t on their side as Theon has tracked the Stark kids to their location. We are later shown the charred bodies of two children who have been burnt to death. It is unclear who they are but David Benioff and Dan Weiss clearly want the audience to think these are the corpses of Bran and Rickon. Having not read the book all the way through, I’m unsure if they haven’t just mercilessly killed them off but my suspicions tell me they haven’t. Though considering how they have dealt with deaths in previous episodes, I would put it past them.
Out in the wild Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow is being taunted by his female prisoner, Ygritte. She is overly flirtatious, teasing him about swearing an oath to remain celibate in order to get a rise out of him (pardon the pun). The conversation then turns to freedom and the notion of loyalty, asking him why he is fighting her people when they are effectively both of the North and on the same side.
Her further taunts and promises of sex lead Jon to question his loyalty to the Night’s Watch and whether it was the right thing for him to really do. The brilliant innuendo has an ulterior motive however and when she catches him at his most vulnerable, Ygritte makes a dash for it, supported by her comrades who have seemingly been following them for days.
At Harrenhal, Tywin Lannister has growing suspicions over who the infiltrator is in his camp. Until now, Arya has remained nicely low key, despite the fact she is Tywin’s cup bearer. As he divulges more and more into the history of Kingdoms, we realize that he is beginning to figure out her identity. What in the beginning seemed to be an innocent conversation (well as innocent as a private conversation between older gentlemen and a young girl can get), begins to seem more and more like a cross examination. Her position is slowly becoming ever more precarious.
Over in Qarth, Daenerys is still searching for the person who stole her dragons. It is revealed that Xaro Xhoan Daxos has been working with Pyat Pree and together, they took the dragons. The alliance they formed also led them to plot the over turning of the Thirteen and in one foul move they kill each of them in order to become the presiding power over the city. Pree then reveals to Daenerys that the dragons have been taken to the House of the Undying.
At King’s Landing there are tensions abound, Sansa Stark wakes up after a nightmare about her assault to discover she has had her first period, meaning that now she can birth the children of Joffrey. Sansa is sent to Cersei for reassurance but even she cannot deny now that her son has turned into an authoritarian nut job with serious little man syndrome.
When asked by Sansa “Shouldn’t I love Joffrey your grace?” Cersei replies with “You can try.” Stunning endorsement for her teenage son. It is hard not to root for Cersei, a character that carries a career defining performance for Lena Headey. She is clearly the strongest woman on the show and though she has her flaws (namely her incestuous affair with her brother), she is willing to admit them and has remained an iron presence in spite of them. She later admits to Tyrion that the evil of Joffrey might be punishment for her sins, but as he so wittily states, “It’s hard to control a dog once you’ve put a crown on it’s head.”
Finally, this week sees the return of Jaime Lannister, who has been held prisoner by Robb Stark for the duration of the season but hasn’t been seen since the season premiere. We get some nice background on the Lannister’s through conversation with his fellow prisoner and cousin Alton, before we are reminded of how ruthless Jaime can be as we watch him cavw his cousin’s head in with his shackles. He then strangles a guard in order to make his escape, which is short lived.
Following this there is an argument between Lady Catelyn Stark and Lord Karstark as to whether Jaime should be executed outright. She denies him that but later on goes to visit Jaime in his cell. After a conversation with the brutish Lannister, who taunts her about Ned’s illegitimate child/her adoptive son Jon Snow, she asks for her knight’s sword.
Plotting was put on the back burner but for real effect this week, the character’s loyalties are ever changing and it is beginning to get serious. The final three episode of Game of Thrones can only promise to be stunning.