Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.04: "And Now His Watch is Ended"

“Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave you see!”

This particular episode of Game of Thrones tried to advance every plot that the show has going with the exception of Robb, Talisa, and Cat’s misadventures, and the episode suffered for that. Everything has gotten exceptionally dark in a hurry, with the final minutes devoted to Daenerys really being the only thing to draw me in. Everything else was just a lot of misery. Well, the happenings in King’s Landing weren’t exactly misery, but Margaery’s scheming still lends a darkness to it all. Daenerys just plain kicked ass, and that was fun to watch, even if it probably won’t all end how she hopes. Because the episode was so disjointed, that was really the only moment that stood out, and there wasn’t really a nice build up to the moment like you would expect in a traditionally structured episode of television. Which is a shame, really.

Jaime and Brienne’s continuing adventures start off the episode, and we get gore right from the beginning, as the camera focuses on Jaime’s severed hand, which is draped around his neck. He is not recovering well from the impromptu amputation at all. Brienne warns their captors that Jaime is about to fall off of his horse, but they don’t really seem to care. Their leader, Locke, seems to delight in torturing Jaime, by giving him a canteen of horse urine when he asks for water and just generally beating up on Jaime. Jaime is just a mud and horse urine soaked mess. Later, when they’re camped for the night, Brienne points out to Jaime that the reason her family’s home is called the Sapphire Isles isn’t because they have a lot of sapphires, but because of the color of the water. Jaime lied to save her, and she wants to know why. Jaime just looks constipated. I don’t think he really knows why he decided to save Brienne.

Also on the gruesome side (and inspiring the title of the episode), the Night’s Watch are back at Craster’s place following the devastating battle with the Wildlings, and as we learned in the last episode, Sam’s lady friend Gilly has had her baby. It’s a boy, which means he’s going to be a sacrifice. Granted, it’s not much of a life for any of the babies born at Craster’s Keep. Boys are sacrificed to the White Walkers, and girls are raped by their father to make more babies. The rest of the Night’s Watch ruffians are rebelling at the idea of continuing to have to work in the hell hole that is Craster’s Keep. Eventually the unhappiness comes to a boil when one of the Night’s Watch calls Craster a bastard. Craster is killed in the fighting (it’s about time), but so is Lord Commander Mormont. The Lord Commander seemed like an overall decent guy, so that made me a bit sad. In the midst of all the fighting, Sam grabs Gilly and the baby, and they go on the run. Because that will end well.

Most of the substance of this episode takes place in King’s Landing. There’s all sorts of scheming going on with the usual suspects, as one would expect in King’s Landing. One of the more interesting bits of exposition dialogue (kind of crazy that we’re still doing this in Season 3, right?) was between Varys and Tyrion. Varys basically tells Tyrion the story of how he became a eunuch. A sorcerer used Varys’ genitals to commune with the gods, essentially, and left Varys for dead. Varys survived, however, and vowed revenge on the sorcerer who mutilated him. While telling this story, Varys is opening a crate. Eventually, the crate is completely open to reveal the sorcerer, and his mouth is sewn shut. Varys will have his revenge after all. I think Varys is trying to make a point to Tyrion about finding the person who set him up to be killed at the Battle of Blackwater.

Varys’ information network never fails him, and he’s recently uncovered a rather juicy tidbit. For his voyage up to the Eyrie, presumably to court Lysa Arryn, Littlefinger has requested two featherbeds on the boat he has chartered. Varys thinks this means that Littlefinger intends to take Sansa with him. Varys discusses this with Lady Olenna out in the gardens. Varys wants to prevent Littlefinger from going from humble beginnings to potential Lord of both the Vale and the North (if he marries Sansa), and Lady Olenna is most definitely on the same page. The plan they concoct is put into action by Margaery, who goes on a walk with Sansa and mentions that perhaps Sansa could marry her brother, Loras. Sansa’s had a crush on Loras (aka the “Lord of the Flowers”) since season 1, and she apparently has no gaydar to speak of, so she is tearfully happy at this suggestion.

The Lannisters aren’t experiencing nearly as much success in their own King’s Landing scheming. Cersei, Joffrey, and Margaery are checking out the Sept of Baelor, where Joffrey and Margaery are to be married. Margaery pulls Joffrey away from the entourage and encourages him to make a beauty pageant-esque waving appearance at the door of the Sept. The people gathered outside all scream out for Margaery, but Margaery convinces Joffrey that all the cheering is for him. Cersei doesn’t like Margaery to begin with, and this incident only cements her bad opinion. She takes a meeting with Tywin and tries to convince him that she’s the sibling he should be entrusting with his most sensitive secrets, not Jaime or Tyrion. Tywin has quite a different opinion of Cersei’s intelligence, and I think he might be right. She may be ruthless, but I don’t think she’s especially smart.

Before we get to the awesomeness that was the final Daenerys scene, let’s take a brief moment to talk about what’s up with Arya. Arya, Gendry, and the Hound are all blindfolded as they are taken to the Brotherhood Without Banners hideout. When the blindfolds are taken off, they learn that the leader of the Brotherhood is none other than Beric Dondarrion. He’s the guy Ned sent back in late Season 1 to kill The Mountain when the Mountain was destroying Riverrun for the Lannisters. The Hound says that his brother, not he, is responsible for all the destruction, but Arya chimes in that the Hound did indeed kill her friend the Butcher’s boy after that play swordfighting incident back on the Kingsroad in Season 1. That’s enough for Dondarrion, who decrees that the Hound will undergo trial by combat for the murder of the butcher’s boy. Oh, and in other (adopted) Stark news, Theon’s having a very bad day. The guy who claimed he worked for Theon’s sister actually brings him right back to the original torture chamber. Sucks to be Theon. Theon does have a good quote about how his “real” father was Ned Stark, though. Too little, too late. Theon’s still an ass.

We finish the episode across the Shivering Sea in Astapor, where Daenerys is completing the transaction to take possession of the Unsullied. She hands over her largest dragon to the slavemaster, and the slavemaster seems to have some trouble controlling it. The slavemaster declares that the Unsullied now belong to Daenerys, and that is all she needs to do her thing. Daenerys gives a big speech, the likes of which we haven’t really seen since she was in full Khaleesi mode back in Season 1, and she tells the Unsullied to attack all their former masters. It’s chaos all over the place. Once all the Astapor slavemasters are dead, Daenerys says she wants to give the Unsullied a choice. She officially frees them, but she asks them to fight for her as free men. The Unsullied start banging their staffs against the ground in agreement. Khaleesi is back, people!

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