Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.02: "Dark Wings, Dark Words"

“The subtleties of politics are often lost on me.”

“Dark Wings, Dark Words” was another rather disjointed episode of “Game of Thrones,” but if I focused on that too much, you’d never read about anything else in my “Game of Thrones” posts. I still think that the show could have benefitted from a more focused approach, even if the current structure more closely mirrors the books, but I can only say that so many times. I will say, however, that this episode, like the season premiere, did not try to attempt every single character’s story, although it did focus on many of them. Daenerys, for example, didn’t make an appearance in this one. There were to central themes that I saw running through the episode. There was a focus on the women (minus Dany), all of whom are very independent and have varying levels of success in exercising that independence. Also, the Stark men were (as per usual) all having a pretty horrible day. When aren’t the Stark men having a bad day, really? If there’s one theme that has been present throughout the series, it’s that the Starks are all kind of screwed.

Of the plots centered on the women of Westeros, I enjoyed the happenings in King’s landing the most. Sansa, Margaery, and Margarey’s grandmother, Lady Olenna Redwyne get into some serious scheming, and it’s a lot of fun. Margaery is really Lady Olenna’s protégé in the scheming, and I think that between the two of them, Joffrey has no idea at all what he’s in for. He’s just too busy being turned on by Margaery messing around with a cross bow. Margaery clearly has an agenda. My favorite scene is when Margaery and Lady Olenna invite Sansa for lunch so they can grill her about Joffrey. At first, Sansa gives all the proper responses about how Joffrey is handsome and brave, but gradually they pry the truth out of her. Sansa talks about how Joffrey made her look at Ned’s head on a pike, and she calls him a monster. Margaery and Lady Olenna’s reaction was a calm and collected “well I guess now we know what we’re working with.” Also in King’s Landing, Shae works to protect Sansa, both from Littlefinger and Joffrey. There’s a funny conversation between Shae and Tyrion where Shae tells Tyrion about Ros’ warning and realizes that Tyrion once slept with Ros.

Other women having a rougher time of it in this episode are Cersei, Cat, Brienne, and Arya. Especially Arya. Cersei just continues to be generally undermined by Joffrey. Nothing especially new going on there. Cat is in a particularly bad way. She’s still a prisoner of her son, doesn’t especially like her new daughter-in-law, and she gets word that not only did her father just die, but Bran and Rickon are missing following the fall of Winterfell. She and Talisa have an interesting conversation about how she once prayed to the Seven that if they healed Jon Snow, she would be a mother to him, and she broke her promise. Brienne is still trying to take Jaime to King’s Landing, and the run into some rough characters on the road. Leading up to this, Jaime had been needling Brienne at every opportunity. He escapes out of his chains just before they are attacked, and the episode ends before we see the outcome of the attack. Arya is with Gendry and Hot Pie on the road as well. They stop at a tavern because some shady characters from the Brotherhood Without Banners has found them. Just as they’re about to escape from the tavern, the Hound is brought in and recognizes Arya. That can’t possibly end well.

As I said earlier, the Stark men area ll having a pretty bad time of it, too. One interesting thing that comes of the plots involving several of the Stark men is that we are introduced to the concept of the Warg. If you’re a good nerd like we are here at MTVP, you probably at least recognize the name “warg” from Lord of the Rings.” They’re big wolf-like mean critters that show up to make the heroes’ lives miserable in “The Two Towers.” Wargs in this universe are quite different, though. We first learn about them from Jon Snow’s perspective. He’s still trecking about north of the Wall with the Wildlings, and one of the Wildlings is a warg. Wargs in this universe are people who can inhabit the consciousness of the animals around them. And as we will learn through the course of this episode, they make all of Brans’ strange dreams in the past two seasons suddenly make sense.

Bran is still on the run out in the woods with Osha (and presumably Rickon is too, although I don’t recall seeing him in this episode). In the woods, they encounter Jojen and Meera Reed. Jojen and Meera appear fairly threatening at the beginning. It doesn’t help that Meera keeps a knife at Osha’s throat. As they travel along the road, Jojen and Meera imply that they know something secret about Bran that even bran doesn’t know. They ask him about his dreams where he sees from Summer’s (his direwolf) point of view or the point of view of the three-eyed raven. It turns out that Bran has these dreams because he, too, is a warg. These dreams are him seeing what the animals are seeing. I was glad to see that all the strange dream sequences actually had a point. I had thought they were a sort of artistic indulgence. I think that this revelation (well at least I hope) portends interesting developments for Bran’s character down the road. And those of you who have read all the books (I’m about 1/3 of the way through the second) are probably laughing at me right now.

The final Stark man having a really bad day (I consider him a Stark man since he was mostly raised by the Starks) is Theon. He has been captured by some nasty folks following the fall of Winterfell, and he is being tortured pretty intensely. His torturers want to know why he took Winterfell and betrayed the Starks, and they don’t believe him when he tells the truth (basically his daddy issues). The torture takes a pause, but it’s pretty obvious that it is intended to continue. When the torture is done for the day, a seemingly helpful servant approaches Theon. The servant says that he has been sent by Theon’s sister, and he will help Theon escape. The escape can’t happen just yet, though, and Theon screams as the servant leaves him alone on the torture rack.

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