Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.07: "A Man Without Honor"

“Come, Maester. Don’t look so grim. It’s all just a game.”

“A Man Without Honor” was yet another extremely fractured episode of “Game of Thrones.” There was a point in the middle of the episode where there were a few scenes in a row that lasted only thirty seconds at the most. It was kind of disconcerting, really. There was, at least, a theme that sort of tied everything together. None of the men brought up by Ned Stark are doing especially well in their new post-Ned lives at the moment. Jon and Robb are finding themselves in trouble because they’ve taken their father’s lessons too much to heart, and Theon is in trouble because he’s trying too hard to reject Ned. There are also so great character moments, such as a pivotal conversation between Cersei and Tyrion and yet another interesting bit of banter between Arya and Tywin. These great character moments don’t mean as much, however, if they don’t serve some sort of plot. Satisfying television needs some of both. Deep, identifiable characters and a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I’m kind of wishing I had done a better job of sticking to my blogging schedule (up until a few weeks ago, I was working three jobs and going to school…cut me a little slack!), because I’m afraid that I might be saying many of these same things several times this week as I work to finish writing about “Game of Thrones” before next weekend’s premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show, “The Newsroom.” So before I say anything else that will most likely be repeated, on with the recap!

The episode opens in Winterfell, where Theon wakes up to an empty bed and very bad news. After one of his guards tells exactly how Osha, Bran, Hodor, and Rikon escaped, Theon reacts by beating up the guard. Guess he felt he needed to demonstrate his power in front of his still ungrateful troops. He follows that display up with an order to ready the hounds. A huge search party, hounds and all, star trying to follow the trail. Theon and his men eventually end up at a farm, and Theon is upset because the hounds have lost the scent. He is about to start terrorizing the poor farmer for information when one of the soldiers finds the shells from walnuts Rikon was eating. Maester Luwin tries to reign in Theon a bit, but all he gets are threats and an order to be dragged back to Winterfell for his trouble. At the end of the episode, Theon speaks to a massive crowd of discontented villagers at Winterfell. He tries again to display his power, this time by unveiling the burnt to a crisp bodies of two children, ostensibly Bran and Rikon. I think these are probably the remains of two unfortunate children who lived at the farm, but what really matters is that the villagers believe they are Bran and Rikon, and they are horrified.

On to another protégé of Ned who has gone astray, we head North of the Wall, where Jon is still spooning with Ygritte to keep warm. They wake up, and Ygritte begins what will turn into an episode-long bout of teasing Jon about being a virgin and the fact that he has taken a chastity pledge as a man of the Night’s Watch. She starts out by implying that he got a little excited from the spooning, and then she starts trying to make him question why he should be fighting Wildlings. Jon pointing out that they have common ancestry because the Starks descended from the First Men doesn’t really help his case. Ygritte tries to convince Jon to give up the Night’s Watch and live as a Wildling, but he’s really not having it. Ygritte later switches tactics, threatening to tell the Night’s Watch higher-ups hat she and Jon had sex. When Jon is distracted with indignation, Ygritte runs off again. When Jon catches up to her, he suddenly finds himself surrounded by Wildlings.

At Harrenhal, Twyin is extremely pissed off about the murder Jaquen just committed. He sends several of his henchmen off to try and solve the murder, which of course makes Arya a little jumpy. He thinks Arya looks like she’s hungry, and he’s tired of eating mutton, so he lets Arya eat some of his dinner. While Arya eats, she and Tywin talk about legacies and female Tararyen heroes. I thought it was really interesting to learn that the original Targaryen who conquered the Seven Kingdoms with his dragons had two sisters who also rode dragons and helped with the conquering. This suggests that maybe Dany will have a real chance at taking over Westeros in the future when her dragons are grown (and, you know, she gets them back from the shifty Qarthans who stole them). If Dany does eventually make it to Westeros, I think she and Arya would get along famously. Anyway, Tywin picks up from Arya’s speech patterns that she’s not really a commoner (she says “my lord” instead of “m’lord), but he doesn’t really press her for her true identity.

In King’s Landing, Sansa runs into the Hound and like the polite noble girl she is, thanks him for saving her from the rapers during the riot. The Hound doesn’t really take the thanks gracefully, though. Instead he just goes all creepy and talks about liking to kill people (including the rapers who were threatening Sansa). The next morning, Sansa wakes up and discovers she’s having her first period. This is devastating for Sansa, because it means she’s one step much closer to having to marry the evil, sadistic Joffrey. Shae tries to help Sansa keep it a secret, both helping Sansa try to turn the mattress over and threatening another maid who saw the mattress as it was being turned. By the time Shae returns to Sansa’s room, though, the Hound is there, and it’s obvious that Cersei is going to be informed of this development. Cersei and Sansa have a kind of cool conversation (in the sense that it imparts some interesting character info) about how Cersei thinks you should just live your life as best you’re able and love no one but your children. Later, Tyrion and Cersei have the also interesting conversation that I mentioned earlier. Cersei is upset that Joffrey has turned out to be kind of a sociopath, and she wonders if it’s punishment for the sin of the incest that produced him (you think?). Tyrion tries to reassure his sister, reminding her that the Targaryens always married brother and sister, and only half of them were really crazy. He tells Cersei that she’s beaten the odds since her other two kids are perfectly nice and upstanding.

Zooming over to Qarth, we see Dany yelling at Xaro over the dragon issue. She ends up getting completely fed up with him and runs off to try and deal with the missing dragon issue on her own. Soon, however, Jorah returns. He tries to comfort her, but she’s still really pissed off. They fight a bit over whether Dany actually has any “people” considering most of the people of Westeros think she’s dead and might not care if she was alive anyway. Dany chides Jorah for being “too familiar,” which really, is a long time coming. He’s been trying to get in her pants since her wedding day, and I’m glad she finally sort of called him on it. Dany eventually just gets completely fed up and sends Jorah off to go try and find the dragons. Jorah goes to see the lady with the creepy mask who seems to be applying an elaborate henna tattoo to a soldier. She informs Jorah that the person who stole the dragons is with Dany right now at this very moment. Dany herself is taking a meeting with the Thirteen, begging for their help to find her dragons. The Magician reveals that he has the dragons at the House of the Undying. In exchange for providing access to the dragons, Xaro is now King of Qarth. This doesn’t sit well with any of the other Thirteen, so Xaro and the Magician have the rest of them killed. Dany’s Bloodrider and Jorah (who arrives just in time, as always) try to protect Dany from the Magician, but he’s working some serious magic, and things don’t look good.

Elsewhere in Westeros (the Riverlands, maybe?), Robb is taking a report from the distant cousin Lannister he sent to deliver the surrender terms to Cersei. The news isn’t good, of course. Robb then has to figure out what to do with this Lannister, and we start to see that, like his father, Robb is being a little too nice and honorable for his own good. Advisors are not so subtly urging Robb to kill the Lannister, but Robb presses for information on prison space. It turns out all the prison pens are full, and they’ll have to build a new one. In the meantime, the distant cousin will have to bunk with Jaime. After this has been dealt with, Talisa approaches Robb and asks for more medical supplies. Robb says she can come with him to a surrender set to take place at the Crag, and she can ask the local Maester there for the supplies. As can be expected, while Robb is gone, keeping Jaime and his cousin in the same pen turns out to be a seriously bad idea. Jaime doesn’t remember his cousin until the cousin says he squired for Jaime once. They have a rather nice conversation about what it’s like to first experience helping a great fighter (Jaime once squired Ser Barristan). Then Jaime kills his cousin as part of an escape attempt. He kills the guard who comes to investigate, too, who happens to be a Karstark. Jaime is then able to escape.

Jaime isn’t missing for long, though. Cat soon gets word that he has been found and returned to camp. There’s quite ruckus outside with many of the bannermen, especially Lord Karstark, wanting to kill Jaime. Lord Karstark really, really wants to avenge her son, and Cat and Brienne have a tough time getting the crowd calmed down. Jaime’s back in a pen, but the troops start getting rowdy once again. It’s apparent that Jaime will be extremely lucky if he survives the night. Cat and Brienne decide to pay him a visit. Jaime stupidly provokes Cat by saying that he’s more honorable than Ned because he stayed true to Cersei while Ned fathered a bastard. Talk of Jon always hits a nerve with Cat, and she asks for a sword. I’m sure she won’t actually kill Jaime (yet), but watching her threaten him in the next episode (I hope) should be good fun.

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