Game of Thrones: Tyrion gets schooled, Jon Snow learns something, and Tywin locks it all down
Standard disclaimer: This review assumes you've watched Sunday's episode, and everything before. If you have not, go watch it first, it's better that way. Don't worry about keeping us waiting, I'll leave a light on for you. For the night is dark, and full of terrors.
There’s justice, and then there’s a trial where a man puts his body between you and freedom, complete with a flaming sword. If you kill him, you go free. If he kills you, you were obviously guilty. The disturbing wrinkle is that this man comes back from the dead after you strike him down.
“It’s not getting any easier, you know,” Beric says later, staring into the fire. “Every time I come back, I’m a little less. Pieces of you get chipped away.” It’s a dark scene, filled with fear and mystery, and it gets even darker when Arya asks if they can bring her father back.
“I don’t think it works that way, child,” she’s told. She’s to be sold back to the Starks for a “contribution” to the group’s fund, but she’s being treated with something approaching kindness despite that situation. This week’s Game of Thrones is filled with big scenes, hints at the power of the God of Light, and disturbing moments.
Drunk, impertinent, and thoroughly debauched
Let’s take one moment, however, and delight at how easily Tyrion is managed by Lady Olenna Tyrell. “I was told you were drunk, impertinent, and thoroughly debauched,” she tells him. “Imagine my disappointment at finding nothing but a brow-beaten bookkeeper.” His reaction is classic, and this is one of the few light scenes in an episode that’s often pitch black in tone.
It’s one thing to have your wife express regret that she can’t provide you with a child, but when this is done in front of their bodies floating in jars… it adds a little something. We also meet Stannis’ daughter, who seems to have suffered a disfiguring injury. Their interactions are also sad, and a little distant, and he tells her exactly what happened to her friend, the Onion Knight. This is a world where children are rarely told their dead pets have been sent to the farm to live full and happy lives.
It must be very easy to play the role of the villain after we’ve been cast in the part. Jaime is still struggling with the loss of his hand, and we get a chance to see some of the “medical” work that’s going into making sure he survives the wound. We finally hear the story of that led to his nickname, and the reality of the situation is much different than we’ve been led to believe.
It’s hard to tell how Brienne feels about all this, especially since she’s clearly uncomfortable sharing a bath with the wounded man. It’s also interesting that we’re hearing so much about Ned, and we even see him in the recap at the beginning of the episode. The show’s story has outgrown him, but he still casts a shadow over the characters and events of the show as they shift and grow. We learn that shadow is not always a comforting thing.
But this is a wonderful character moment for the Kingslayer, even if the “My name is Jaime” capper in Brienne’s arms is just a teeny tiny bit on the nose. I hate making predictions based on the show, since so many of you know how things end up, but it must be calming for Jaime to know at least one person understands him, at least in a tiny way.
Now that he's confessed, can no longer fight, and is sure that his sister is safe, I would not be shocked if we found him swinging by his neck in the next episode, hanging by a noose he tied himself. The character is broken, and having such a proud man commit suicide instead of dying in battle would be an interesting way to add gravity to the story arc, just as we're beginning to be sympathetic to the character.
Another aspect of this episode that was a joy to watch was the contrast of Robb to Tywin. Robb has lost his young Lannister hostages, and he gained nothing in return. He’s furious that he must behead a lord, and is disrespected before he brings the sword down. Robb is in way over his head, and we’re starting to understand just how much everything has gotten away from him. He may be a Stark, but he’s simply not in control, and control is all important to someone in his position. He seems to know what he has to do, and even better he seems to know how he must do it, but he lacks the will to convince those around him of the greater picture.
If things are slipping away from Robb, Tywin once again shows that he understand everything that’s going on, and already knows how to stay on top. Tyrion is to marry Sansa, and they’re to have a child. Quickly.
Cersei is to marry Loras, and that’s that. The Tyrell family has long known of Sansa’s importance, but Tywin is much more direct about her power, referring to her as the “key to the north.” He figures out a way to control the situation, steamrolls over the objections of his children, and gets on with his life. Not the warmest man, but dude gets shit done.
Speaking of getting stuff done, how about that Jon Snow, ladies and gentleman? It turns out he knows something, am I right? He’s always been a serious character that can be hard to take seriously in the show, but once you break one vow it's hard to care about the rest. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is all going.
I’m pretty much done complaining about nothing happening, because right now everything is happening. This is a great episode, filled with great moments.
A quick note: I have not read the books, and I'm enjoying going into things unspoiled, so please keep the discussion in the comments general, or limited to the show. I'm not going to police the comments however, so read at your own risk.