Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.08: "Second Sons"

“I shall build a shrine to myself at the next brothel I visit.”

I think that “Second Sons” is my favorite episode of this season of “Game of Thrones” thus far. While it was still divided between numerous plots, it gave special focus to just a few, and those plots were compelling. I would have loved to have spent the whole episode on the horrid drama surrounding Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding, for instance, because there was so much going on there, both at and below the surface. Similarly, I could have almost as happily spent the whole episode on Daenerys and the political intrigue happening across the Shivering Sea in Yunkai. Several slightly less compelling plots still deserved my attention. I think part of what’s going on here is that the show has really raised the stakes. Thinks are about to get very, very deadly. You can feel that tension in every scene, and the creative team has done an admirable job in making that happen.

We’ll go with the King’s Landing plot first, since I enjoyed it the most. Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding is immanent. Tywin makes it clear to Tyrion that he expects a potential future Lannister heir to Winterfell out of this wedding, which doesn’t really thrill Tyrion all that much. He still seems to be more concerned with how to treat Shae through all this. Surprisingly a gentleman, he is also concerned about Sansa’s wellbeing, and before the wedding, he assures her that he will never hurt her. The wedding itself is kind of a mess, mostly because of Joffrey. At the ceremony, Joffrey takes away Tyrion’s stool, so he has a difficult time putting a ceremonial cloak on Sansa. At the reception, Joffrey openly threatens Sansa with rape. He tells Sansa that he will come by his room with some of his Kingsguard (to hold her down) after Tyrion is passed out from drinking too much.

Tyrion is, indeed, getting rather blindingly drunk, and it’s the most entertaining he’s been since his trial at the Eyrie back in season one. He goes on about how Tywin doesn’t have to worry about him producing an heir, because he’s an expert at drinking and sex. Cersei, for her part, is just plain miserable throughout the whole ordeal because it reminds her that she’s going to have to marry Loras soon. Anyway, Tyrion’s pretty darn drunk after the reception, but he manages to keep Joffrey from forcing the “bedding ceremony.” He’s also still sober enough to feel bad when Sansa says she’s fourteen and looks petrified at the idea of having sex with him. He ends up sleeping on the couch, and Shae is quite impressed when she comes round to clean the room the next morning. Tyrion assures Sansa that they will never have to share a bed unless she wants to. When Sansa asks what happens if she never wants to, Tyrion responds with a cheeky "And now my watch begins."

Characters in general are shifting alliances in this one. For instance, we have a quick scene with Arya and the Hound out in the woods. She’s struggling against her captivity, and the Hound says she could have it worse. His brother would be worse, for instance. He doesn’t intend to take her to King’s Landing. He’s going to take her to the Twins to join up with her family at the big Tully/Frey wedding. He figures that the Starks will pay him a pretty penny for Arya’s return. Arya ends up accepting the fact that her current captivity is probably the best situation she could hope for at the moment, and she stops struggling so much.

At Dragonstone, Gendry learns that maybe agreeing to go with Melisandre wasn’t such a good thing, after all. Melisandre finally brings Gendry to Dragonstone, where Gendry thinks he’s going to be wined and dined. Melisandre takes him into a fancy bed chamber, starts having sex with him, then breaks out some leaches. Apparently she needs some blood to prove to Stannis and Davos that a King’s blood has special magical powers. Gendry is really freaked out about this, which is kind of understandable, but compared to what Theon is going through right now, leeches are nothing. At least Gendry still has all his appendages. Melisandre throws the leaches into a fire and says the names of three of Stannis’ enemies, including Robb. The whole thing is rather ominous. And yes, Davos is now free from prison. There’s an amusing little scene where he’s teaching himself to read, and he quick hides his book when he hears noise. It’s Stannis, and he agrees to free Davos, even though Davos still refuses to believe in the Lord of Light.

Across the Shivering Sea, Daenerys and her crew are still trying to deal with the Yunkai. The Yunkai are guarded by a band of mercenaries called the Second Sons. Their leader is a complete asshole named Mero, aka “Titan’s Bastard.” Dany thinks she may be able to turn the Second Sons to fight for her cause (because she figures they’d rather fight for the winning side, and they’re outnumbered by the Unsullied), so she invites their leaders to a meeting. Three men, including Mero, show up, and Mero just spends the whole time making lewd comments about Dany. It’s really gross. Mero seems inclined to keep fighting for the Yunkai even though the Unsullied could probably kick their asses, but Dany gives him a little time to think about it. Back at the Second Sons camp, the three men talk about how they need to kill Dany, and they draw lots to decide who will have to do the deed.

Daario, the youngest of the three Second Sons leaders, is the unlucky winner of the contest to choose who will kill Dany. Dany is getting a bath when he enters her tent. Daario doesn’t exactly have murder on his mind, though. He tells Dany that he appreciates her beauty more than his two colleagues. Dany most likely has no romantic interest in Daario (she’s still loyal to the memory of Khal Drogo), but she’s smart enough to use the situation to her advantage (for now, at least). Daario reveals that he has killed the other two Second Sons leaders in rather dramatic fashion. He presents Dany with their heads. Dany asks Daario if she can have his loyalty, and he pledges himself to serve her.

The final important bit of this episode takes place in the North, where Sam and Gilly and the baby are camped out in a shack. They’re having rather normal discussion about what Gilly should name the baby and comparing bad daddy stories. All of a sudden, the noise of crows outside becomes deafening. Sam goes out to investigate, seemingly carrying a torch and a sword. When he sees what has riled up the crows, he drops the torch, which is pretty stupid, since fire can kill the White Walker that is approaching. Gilly yells that the monster must be coming to take her baby. Sam’s not going to let that happen, so he tries to face off against the White Walker with his sword. The White Walker makes short work of the sword- its touch makes the sword shatter. Luckily, Sam still has a dragon glass dagger that he revealed a few episodes back, and that does the trick. It’s interesting how all the potential Kings and Queens are still so occupied with fighting among themselves that they aren’t seeing the true threat brewing in the North. Winter is Coming indeed.

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