Thursday, May 2, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.05: "Kissed By Fire"

“I was told you were a drunk, impertinent, and thoroughly debauched. You can imagine my disappointment finding nothing but a browbeaten bookkeeper.”
-Lady Olenna

This was the episode where all the action in this season of “Game of Thrones” really started to heat up. Which is appropriate, given the episode’s title and the overall fire theme of the episode. The Lord of Light and his followers definitely had a presence in this episode, from followers we already knew like Stannis to newer converts like Dondarrion. Perhaps because we’ve reached the halfway point of the season, there was a definite sense of plot movement, from the consummation of previously unresolved sexual tension to new plans for marriage. We also see Robb Stark start to march towards a series of events that I think will end badly for him. How can it not end badly? This is “Game of Thrones,” after all, and nothing seems to go well for the Starks, even if they’re the family we’re ostensibly supposed to root for. None of the Starks are really faring well by the end of this episode. Well, except for Jon Snow. He seems to be having a good enough day, for sure.

Since I started this post talking about the fire theme, we’ll start with a rundown of the fire themed plots we saw in this episode. We spend a significant amount of this episode out on Dragonstone with Stannis and his clan. There’s a rather awkward scene where Stannis admits to his wife, Selyse, that he cheated on her with Melisandre. It’s mostly awkward because it takes place in a room with his wife’s stillborn fetuses. Apparently she has issues maintaining a pregnancy? Anyway, Selyse says that she already knew about the affair, but she doesn’t mind that Stannis slept with Melisandre, because Melisandre gave him a child. Selyse gave Stannis a child, too, though, and we meet her in this episode. A girl with a facial deformity named Shireen.

Shireen seems to be locked up in some sort of tower, out of Baratheon embarrassment, presumably. Stannis pays her a visit against Selyse’s advice (she thinks that Shireen is a “distraction” Stannis doesn’t need right now), and he accidentally lets it slip that Davos is in the dungeon. Little Shireen saw Davos as a sort of favorite uncle, so she is really not happy about this news at all. She goes down to the dungeon to visit Davos, and she tries to give him a book. Davos tells Shireen, to her surprise, that he actually is a traitor and does (sort of…he really is right about Melisandre, I think) deserve to be in the dungeon. Oh, and apparently he can’t read, so the gift of the book won’t do him much good. Shireen then offers to read the book to Davos. It really is a crime that the Baratheons keep her locked up in a tower. She seems like a sweet kid.

The other Lord of Light worshipper that we follow in this episode is Dondarrion, leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners. We pick up that plot with the big Trial by Combat between Dondarrion and the Hound. I liked Tyrion’s Trial by Combat in season 1 better. The Hound wins, and so the Brotherhood lets him go, over Arya’s very strong protest. It turns out, however, that being killed is only a flesh wound to Dondarrion. A red priest prays to the Lord of Light, and Dondarrian is resurrected. I found that to be kind of bizarre. Later, in the first of two pseudo-romantic scenes in this episode that will seemingly come to nothing, Gendry tells Arya that he is going to stay with the Brotherhood while she is taken ahead to Harrenhal (for Stark reward money, no doubt). Arya is upset about this, because she thought Gendry was going to go to work for Robb. Genrdy wants to make his own decisions now, though. Arya tries to say they are family, but Gendry says she’ll always be “m’lady.” This sounds vaguely romantic, although more observant fans than men have pointed out that he’s probably just referring to Arya being of a higher class.

The other pseudo-romantic plot of the episode would be Jaime and Brienne. They arrive at their destination, and Locke turns them over to Roose Bolton, one of Robb’s bannermen. Guess Jaime’s not getting back to the Lannisters any time soon. Roose plays some games with Jaime, making him think Blackwater resulted in horrible Lannister losses before telling him the truth. The upshot of this is Brienne and Jaime ending up in a hot tub together. Jaime tells Brienne about his Kingslayer moment from his perspective, which is some interesting backstory. Jaime claims that he was just protecting his father. Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, didn’t believe that Tywin would double cross him, so he orders Jaime to let Tywin and his army into King’s Landing. When the double cross is apparent, Aerys orders Jaime to murder Tywin, but Jaime’s not going to murder his dad, so he murders Aerys instead. Jaime passes out in Brienne’s arms after telling this story, but I think that’s as close as they’re going to get for a while, at least.

Since we just talked about one of Robb’s bannermen, let’s move on to what Robb himself is up to. Lord Karstark is getting extra uppity, and he leads a mob to kill the two teenage Lannisters that Robb is holding prisoner. Robb pretty much regards this as treason, because those Lannisters were the only bargaining chips he had. He becomes very much like his father in his reaction to this. He wants to deliver justice. Both Cat and Talisa try to warn him that this is a bad idea. If he kills Lord Karstark, all the other Karstarks will leave (and nobody would blame them), and they make up a substantial portion of Robb’s army. Robb disregards their advice and kills Lord Karstark (with his own sword…ned would be proud), and the predicted Karstark desertion takes place. Robb tells Talisa that he now has only one option to replenish his army. He’s got to go beg to Frey. And considering he didn’t marry a Frey daughter like he promised, I think this is going to end very, very badly. It’s sad to see such an awesome character heading for such a horrible predicament just out of his own sense of honor. Like father, like son, I guess.

Before we get into this episode’s scheming King’s Landing action, let’s take a quick spin through Jon Snow’s very good day. Some of the Wildlings are questioning his loyalty, so Jon tells them which of the castles along the Wall are still manned by the Night’s Watch, and he tells the Wildlings the strength of the defenses at each of the castles. Ygritte then taunts Jon and steals his sword, and he chases her to a cave. After only a minor protest by Jon, cave time leads to sexy time, and Jon really has broken his vows to the Night’s Watch. He admits to Ygritte that he was a virgin, but the status wasn’t mutual. It’s kind of hilarious when Ygritte starts going over her past consequences and Jon gets a little pissy about it.

And now, as promised, on to King’s Landing. Cersei meets with Littlefinger, where she warns him to keep an eye on the Tyrells. Clearly she’s trying to avoid a potential future Sansa/Loras marriage. Meanwhile, Tyrion, in probably my favorite scene of the entire episode (and perhaps season), takes a meeting with Lady Olenna. As Master of Coin, he’s naturally concerned about the cost of the upcoming Royal Wedding. I make a living telling people that no, they can’t spend money on things, so I found this absolutely hilarious, and I now consider Tyrion a kindred spirit. Somebody’s got to look out for the Crown’s budget, damnit! Lady Oleanna agrees to pay for half of the wedding, but only after giving Tyrion a schooling in how much the Tyrells have already contributed to the cause. Tyrion’s only partially happy about this result. Word of all the marriage-related scheming gets to Tywin, and he kind of schools his kids and proves what an ass he is. He decrees that Tyrion is going to have to marry Sansa so the Tyrells can’t have her. Just as Cersei is really starting to gloat, Tywin then decrees that she is going to have to marry Loras. And here Cersei thought she’d never have to deal with a loveless arranged marriage ever again.

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