I was out late Sunday night—so once again, I’m getting to my Game of Thrones recap a bit late. But this is why streaming video online is so much better than watching a show when it’s scheduled to air—you can watch it whenever you want. It’s tough to imagine people used to actually have to wait for the DVD collection to come out if they missed an episode of their favorite show, way back when. Life sure was hard then.
[Warning: Tharr be spoilers below.]
[Warning: Tharr be spoilers below.]
But not as hard as it is for the Hound. We start off this episode with the Hound fighting for his life against Beric Dondarrion. Everyone’s against him. The crowd is chanting “KILL HIM.” When he wins—against a man with a flaming sword who can’t die—Arya Stark has to be physically restrained from doing the job herself.
I have to admit I rooted for the Hound here. Sandor Clegane has it even worse than John Snow—he’s a character who always, consistently, gets the shit end of the stick. His brother (the sadly-underutilized-in-this-series Mountain, who is a terrifically scary villain in the books) horribly disfigured him as a child and now he carries scars and a fear of fire. I agree with Nice Guys of Westeros: I secretly believe Sandor when he tells me he’s secretly the nice guy.
I teared up a little when Arya asks Beric if a man without a head could be resurrected—not six times, but just once. Her grief over her father is still very much present.
Meanwhile, John Snow’s Wildling companions don’t quite trust him—and ask him for intelligence to prove his loyalties. Ygritte asks him to prove his loyalty in a different way—by getting naked and breaking his vow of celibacy. I love how she takes charge with him. In a world where women frequently don’t have a choice about whether to have sex—and when they do take charge, it’s often to get something else they want—Ygritte’s agency in this area is refreshing. And who can blame her? John Snow was the hottest virgin in the Seven Kingdoms. (Notice I say was.)
Later we get another bath scene, with Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. (And man, did Jamie ever need a bath.) They’re now being held at Roose Bolton’s, and their circumstances are a bit better—although Jamie is still a prisoner. Brienne shows that despite everything, she still doesn’t trust Jamie—he is the Kingslayer, after all. Jamie gives her his own origin story—tells her about the Mad King’s horrible deeds and his insanity, and what drove him to kill the King. Jamie wants a truce. “You need trust for a truce,” Brienne says. “I trust you,” Jamie shoots back.
To be honest, in another writer’s hands, the situation between Jamie and Brienne would be prime breeding ground for a romance—But the thing is, just because I want those things from Martin doesn’t mean he’ll deliver. In fact, he probably knows that’s what his readers secretly want to see—because it’s the expected and satisfying outcome of that particular trope—and is deliberately refusing to give it. I feel that’s a big part of why this series is so compelling.
Scenes with Lady Olenna Redwyne are always a bright spot in this series. I love watching her spar with Tyrion—and I really get the sense of Tyrion’s reduced circumstances in life. He’s the brother of the Queen Regent, uncle of the King, and former Hand—but Lady Olenna treats him like a pesky official. Which he is, at this point.
Meanwhile Arya Stark is saddened to hear that Gendry wants to stay with Beric Dondarrion rather than go with her to fight for Robb. “I can be your family,” Arya says—the heartbreak in her voice is palpable. “You wouldn’t be my family,” Gendry replies— “You’d be my lady.”
I love how innocent Arya is about class barriers, in a world where the barriers between people of different classes are almost insurmountable. She unhesitatingly makes friends with butchers’ boys and smiths’ apprentices and bakers’ boys, and never considers herself above them—as even her sister Sansa undoubtedly would. She doesn’t even appear to see those huge class barriers—and in this scene with Gendry, he gently reminds her of them. But Arya definitely has the ability to connect and sympathize with the common people—which would be a strength of hers if she ever is in a leadership position.
Robb Stark has to kill off the Karstark after he kills some Lannister prisoners in retaliation for his own sons’ deaths. He beheads his former ally himself, as his father would have done. His honor forces him to kill the Karstark, but it’s also a bad tactical decision—he loses one of his most significant allies, and makes his position even more precarious.
Meanwhile we get to see a little more into Stannis’ creepy family life—his wife keeps their stillborn babies in jars. His daughter, Shireen, has a skin disease that deforms her face—but Shireen is actually a sweet kid. She takes a book to the Onion Knight and even offers to teach him how to read, even though he’s in jail for having betrayed her father.
Finally, we get to Daenerys. I love that Barristan Selmy is now part of her entourage—he’s a highly experienced warrior with recent knowledge of the lay of the land in Westeros. Daenerys is another young woman with a common touch—she tells her Unsullied soldiers to choose different names. The Unsullied spokesman tells her he wants to keep his slave name—Grey Worm—because it’s the name he had when he was freed. Guy has a point.
We see Sansa and Margaery Tyrell watching Loras spar—Sansa is already half in love with him—but Loras is hooking up with the handsome squire, who turns out to be a spy for Littlefinger. Later, Littlefinger sounds Sansa out about leaving with him—but Sansa suddenly wants to stick around.
Lastly, Tyrion is horrified when his father declares he has to marry Sansa Stark—this is his solution to the Tyrells’ maneuvering to marry Sansa to Loras. Cersei is initially smug, until her father tells her she’s got to start pulling her weight for the family again—by marrying Loras.
I felt bad for Cersei, as awful as she is, when she begs her father not to make her marry again. And it just goes to show that in this world, even if you’re the highest-ranking woman in the country, women still have very little control over their own fate. Lady Olenna is in a much more enviable position of power, as all the men around her have died and she’s too old to marry off.
So that’s it for this week’s Game of Thrones recap—wrapped up with Shireen’s creepy, whispery rendition of the song her mad fool Patchface sings in the books. Not sure if Patchface will make an appearance here—but I hope so, because he adds to the creepiness of Stannis’ home life.