Thursday, May 24, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.03: "What is Dead May Never Die"

“Maybe magic was once a mighty force in the world, but not anymore.”
-Maester Luwin

I love just spending time in the world of Westeros that George R.R. Martin created for his Song of Ice and Fire books, but I have to say that this wasn’t one of the stronger episodes of “Game of Thrones.” We’re still in the gear-turning, set up the plot part of the season, and that can sometimes get a little frustrating. And there was hardly any Jon Snow and no Robb (although, like the previous episode, his presence was still very much felt because so many characters are reacting to his actions). There wasn’t any sexpostion in this episode, at least. I’ll give it that much credit! And a focus on Tyrion scheming to try to protect himself led to some fun scenes as well. So it certainly wasn’t a complete loss. I think in general the show is just spread a little thin at the moment. When the season really kicks into gear, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more thoroughly. Plenty of future craziness and drama was certainly set up in this episode.

This episode opens where the last one left off, north of the Wall at Craster’s compound. Craster tosses a rather battered and bruised Jon Snow into the building where the rest of the Night’s Watch is bunking, and he tells them that they all need to leave. He’s extremely upset that Jon saw him sacrificing the baby. Lord Commander Mormont has a rather hostile talk with Jon about all this. Jon tries to explain about the sacrificing, but Mormont already knew. He explains that the boy babies were sacrifices to the gods Craster worships. He also says that the Night’s Watch relies on the help of people like Craster, even if people like Craster are monsters. The next day, as the Night’s Watch is packing up to leave Craster’s compound, Sam gives a thimble to the pregnant daughter/wife. That can’t possibly end well. In other Stark news, Bran is still having dreams from the perspective of a direwolf, and he talks to Maester Luwin about it. Maester Luwin doesn’t really take it seriously, explaining that magic is pretty much gone from the world.

We next see some gladiator-style fighting, reminiscent of Joffrey’s name day in the season premiere. This time, however, it’s Renly’s court. I guess this scene was meant to show us that Renly isn’t as different from Joffrey as we might think. At least in Renly’s court, though, it’s not a fight to the death. This particular fight features a woman named Brienne of Tarth and Loras Tyrell, Knight of the Flowers and Renly’s lover on the down-low. Brienne wins the fight, surprisingly enough, and as a reward, she asks to be made a member of Renly’s Kingsguar. Renly agrees, to Loras’ chagrin. Oh and did I mention that Renly is now married to Margaery Tyrell, Loras’ sister? Talk about awkward. Cat arrives at the tournament to ask Renly if he’s interested in an alliance with Robb. Renly’s advisors try to shoot down the idea, but Renly agrees to talk. Cat insults him one too many ties, though, and he dismisses her for now. Renly and Loras later have a bit of an argument over Brienne being named to the Kingsguard, and Loras ends up sending his sister into Renly’s chambers. She wants to have his baby, she’s well aware of his relationship with her brother, and she doesn’t care. She’s even open to Loras getting Renly aroused first as long as she gets the baby.

Theon isn’t faring any better in his get an ally for Robb mission. Theon continues to try to push the idea of an alliance with his father, but Balon wants to use the war as an opportunity to go back to pirating. He thinks Theon and Yara can take the entirety of the North while Robb isn’t paying attention, starting with the coastal communities, of course. Balon keeps insulting Theon for being too friendly with the Starks. Theon tries to argue that since Balon gave him away, he really has no right to be bitter about his Stark loyalties, but nobody listens to him. I think Ned and his bannermen should have wiped the Greyjoys out completely back during the original rebellion. Balon is a real piece of work. Next thing we know, Theon is writing a letter to Robb when he suddenly stops and burns it. He then participates in a sort of baptism for the “Drowned God,” which is presumably pledging his loyalty to House Greyjoy.

Farther south in King’s Landing, Tyrion and Shae are having an argument. Shae doesn’t want to be in hiding anymore, and she really doesn’t like Tyrion’s suggestion of becoming a scullery maid. That is totally understandable for sure. We also see the most uncomfortable Lannister family dinner with just the ladies and the kids. The kids are going on about how great Sansa and Joffrey’s wedding is going to be, and that just makes Sansa uncomfortable. She tries to say all the right things so she won’t be tortured, but it’s certainly not easy, considering Joffrey killed her father and all. After dinner, Sansa meets her new handmaiden, who is surprisingly inexperienced for a King’s Landing servant. It’s Shae, of course!

Meanwhile, Tyrion is busy scheming. He fits right into King’s Landing, of course. He sets up a sort of test for Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger. He tells each of them that he plans to marry off his niece to form a political alliance. He tells each person a different prospective match. Pycelle is told that the niece will be married to someone in Dorn, Varys is told that she will be married to Theon, and Littlefinger is asked to arrange a marriage with Robyn Arryn. He warns each of his test subjects not to tell the Queen what is going on. I guess he wants to see who is going to spill. Soon enough, Tyrion and Cersei are having a huge fight because Cersei heard that Tyrion was planning to marry her daughter to someone in Dorn. Things aren’t looking good for the Grand Maester.

Littlefinger confronts Tyrion, angry that all his work to arrange the marriage to Robyn Arryn was for naught since Tyrion’s niece is getting married to that Dornish fellow and all. Tyrion says he has another job for Littlefinger. He wants Littlefinger’s help in freeing Jaime from captivity. Littlefinger eventually agrees because it would give him an excuse to see Cat. Then Tyrion goes really badass and confronts Grand Master Pycelle about being a no-good snitch. He catches Pycelle in flagrante and has him taken to the Black Cells, after cutting of his beard, of course. Tyrion has a chat with Varys, too, but Varys just keeps speaking in riddles about power. I like that Tyrion just does what needs to be done here. Pycelle really had it coming. He’s been a bit of a slimeball for a while, and Tyrion really, really doesn’t want to be the next Ned Stark.

We end the episode with Arya and the rest of the rag tag group making its way towards the Wall. Arya and Yoren have a lovely conversation that reveals quite a lot about Yoren. They talk about how Arya’s having trouble sleeping because of the terrible things she has seen, and we learn about how Yoren avenging his brother’s murder led him to take the Black. The Goldcloaks soon break up the party, though, and this time they have extra Lannister soldiers as backup. Yoren is killed in the ensuing fray (which is typical, since we just got to really know him), but he takes many of the enemy with him. Arya and Gendry are captured, but the Lannister troops don’t know who they are, and a quick-thinking Arya makes them think that a boy who died is Gendry.

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