Game of Thrones episode 3: Maimings, sexual assault, and dire wolves made of bread
Spoiler warning: This post assumes you've watched the first three episodes of this season, and the two seasons that came before them. If you haven't watched the episode yet, STOP NOW, go enjoy the show without knowing what's coming, and then come back. We'll wait for you, I promise.
It’s hard to tell the shape of a season of Game of Thrones, even after three episodes. Imagine each story as strands of leather being tied with others into an intricate knot; we’re not going to see the shape of things until all the strands are pulled taut. For now they’re just loose strips, hanging together. Last night’s episode didn’t seem to have any recognizable narrative push, but it did succeed in providing a few memorable scenes.
An accountant gets made, a squire gets laid
I’m not sure how many other shows could pull off a scene that consisted only of characters moving chairs around a table, but there was so much character in where everyone chose to sit combined with Tywin’s annoyed looks at the whole situation. Tyrion is made Master of Coin, a glorified accountant. “I’m quite good at spending money, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn’t taught me much about managing it,” he protests.
What he discovers about borrowed money, however, becomes yet another strand. We’re left to wonder when it’s going to be pulled tight.
So I have a question for you: Do we think Daenerys understands the insulting words of the slaver? Has there ever been a scene where a character is speaking ill of another character in what they assume is an alien language, only to be presented with the shocking twist that the other person knew what they were saying the entire time?
Daenarys trades a dragon, the largest dragon, for 8,000 Unsullied, not to mention the translator, and half-trained children she says will retrieve the swords from the dead. There is not a single hint in anything we know of her character to lead us to believe that this is a straight up deal: She would never give up a dragon, even if it meant getting an army in exchange. As is pointed out to her, dragons are worth more than armies. However this plays out, I’m sure it’s going to be interesting.
Jaime has been captured, from his prior captor no less, but he’s still sure he’s in control of the situation. He gives Brienne advice about how to deal with the rape he sees as eventual, and there’s a certain cold logic to his words. He won’t help her, not directly, but he’s trying to keep her alive. He also would “make them kill him” if the situations were reversed.
Later in the episode he once again tries to mitigate her very unpleasant situation, and you have to wonder where the angle is in his actions. This is the man who tried to push a child to his death; I don’t see him developing empathy for one such as Brienne so quickly.
His arrogance is misplaced however, and he loses his hand in a scene that made me suck air through my teeth in shock. Watching the blade being put to his eye was bad enough, but unless I’m mistaken he has lost the hand he uses to fight. They may as well have neutered him. Has the Kingslayer ever been put in a situation where he feels truly powerless? Has he every dealt with a situation he couldn’t talk, fight, or wheedle his way out of? The loss of the hand is nothing compared to the sudden shock of realizing that he’s just a man after all, and men can be killed. Very easily, in fact.
Where is this going?
It’s hard to write about a show in this manner without simply repeating what happened in each episode, but sometimes you have to wonder where these story beats are going. Who cares if Tyrion’s squire is apparently so good in bed that prostitutes refuse to take his money? Is there a point to that scene?
Arya remains one of my favorite characters, but it’s hard to speculate on what’s happening with the character, even if she shares a tender scene with Hot Pie that focuses on bread baked to resemble a dire wolf. She also asks the Hound if he remember where he is, and she gets a subtle lesson in the power of memory. The death of the boy at that location was a formative experience for Arya, and a moment she'll never forget. For the Hound, it was Tuesday.
A man not being able to hit a body with a flaming arrow during a funeral is a fun bit of cringe-based drama, but Robb explaining his strategy to the same man, who all but ruined a carefully laid plan, shows just how well Robb can see through the battlefield. It also shows how little it matters when those around him don’t listen. In a world so dense, with so many characters to see and story to cut through, spending that many minutes showing, and then explaining, how much of a fuck-up a character is can seem decadent. But it gave the episode a stronger than expected opening, and was definitely fun.
Oh, Theon was almost raped, and there was a moment in the show where my heart broke due to a penis being revealed to the camera. This is an odd show to describe to people who aren’t following along, but I’m sure you remember the scene I’m referring to.
So I enjoyed this hour of television, and it got my mind going enough that writing these thoughts was relatively easy, but it’s been three hours. It’s time for things to get moving. The loss of Jaime’s hand was definitely an unexpected and brutal end to the episode, and it could be a hint that things are going to pick up, but Game of Thrones is usually resistant to the sort of pacing that works with most shows. Still, I don’t think I’m alone with the feeling of wanting to twirl my finger above my head. Let’s get on with it.
Standard disclosures: I haven't read the books, and it would be great if we could avoid spoilers from the books in the comments. I'm not going to police the comments though, so read at your own risk.