Thank God the chess board is now set…because that hour of television felt longer than the Mad Men premier. As if assuming that everyone left off E1 wondering ‘what about the characters you didn’t show!?’ Dark Wings, Dark Words immediately starts by filling in the blanks. I can only hope that with 20% of the season over already (wtf!?) the pieces can start moving.
COMMENTS WARNING: Neither of us have read the books, so PLEASE do not comment on something you know from the books that has not happened on the show–I just had to delete a comment that I only read in part because it talked about something I had no way of knowing unless I read the books. We are evaluating Game of Thrones as a TV show, not as an adaptation. DON’T RUIN IT!
Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry are making their way North when they are ambushed by some members of the Brotherhood without Banners–the very same organization that the torturer in Harrenhall was asking about last season. I assumed this group was made up, and was just an excuse to be sadistic and torture/kill prisoners. Apparently not! These chaps have a little fun at our companions’ expense, including that badass moment where the guy shoots an arrow straight up in the air and suggests Hot Pie should probably move if he doesn’t want to die when he finishes speaking. Of course a wrench is thrown into the machinery when The Hound identifies Arya as “the Stark bitch,” but these guys seem to be anti-Lannister more than anti-Stark. It is quite possible they could be sold back to the Lannisters for immense profits, but these don’t seem like the people interested in immense profits. I really have no prediction for this storyline right now as not enough has happened to be predict’able.’
Brienne and Jamie are continuing their slow march to King’s Landing with Jamie hell-bent on getting a rise out of this Amazon. As an aside, can these two go five minutes without coming upon someone trying to derail them? First there were the men who hung Lannister sympathizers–Brienne was forced to kill them (remember 2 quick deaths, 1 slow). Next they ran into the guy in the woods whom Jamie foreshadowed recognized him and would report it. Finally, in the middle of their fight on the bridge, Jamie is proved to be something of a ‘warg’ himself as Robb’s bannermen find them. I imagine that Jamie and Brienne will end up working together to escape and will build a stronger bond as a result. He should already be respecting her more following his beat down in the fight. Brienne was definitely gonna win that duel right?
Bran, Rickon, Osha, and Hodor (Hodor!) are also making their way North, but like every other character this week, they unexpectedly run into people! This time it’s weirdly the boy Bran saw in his dream, who is apparently the son of an ally and shares the gift Bran has. Bran is a warg* and Jojen is going to help him harness this power. There is also a stupidly obvious parallel drawn when Osha is making fun of Meera for protecting her weak brother. Meera remarks that he is someone worth protecting–hey just like Bran! Thankfully we at least have some idea now about where this storyline is going.
*We learned about wargs twice in this hour–first when Ygritte teaches Jon Snow about them in the North, and later by Jojen. Before this episode I had never heard this word uttered on the show, which makes it feel like the Jon Snow scene was shoehorned in so that they could say ‘we didn’t just pull a quick one on you, you’ve known about wargs all along!’ I would’ve appreciated a little set up before this, as it was clear Bran can see the future already but it wasn’t clear that it’s not that uncommon.
The last omission from E1 is Theon, who is being mysteriously tortured. I suspect Iron-born men are at the helm since the last we saw of Theon he was knocked out and hooded by them. The person saying he comes from his sister to rescue him is most likely a set-up to see how long he can remain loyal. Theon’s delivery of the line about how he felt like a captive of the Stark’s his whole life was particular poor acting on his part (not bad acting by Alfie Allen, just that Theon is not doing a good job convincing his captors that he hates the Starks). Still, the unanswered question is how the hell did these guys get out of Winterfell? Wasn’t there a siege going on with a really annoying horn player? That makes me backtrack and think he is a captive of the Starks. However, as some may recall from last season Robb issued a decree that any Iron-born would be pardoned except for Theon. The fact that Theon isn’t en route to Robb leads me to conclude he isn’t being held by Stark bannermen. Not much in the way of answers this week, only more questions to ask.
Onto the most enjoyable part of the episode, which takes place at King’s Landing. First we see Cersei probing Joffrey about what he thinks of Margaery while he tries on new outfits–NO FLOWERS! At every suggestion Cersei makes Joffrey reminds her that he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. He is King and he does as he pleases. Women do as they are told. Cersei’s influence was almost visibly waning as Joffrey continuously interrupts her whenever she tries to give advice–she is trapped by the very custom Joffrey outlined.
Margaery has come to fill the void. In E2’s finest scene we see a brilliantly cunning Margaery, having just learned from Sansa that Joffrey is a “monster,” indulge him in discussing his crossbow and how enjoyable it is to watch things die. There is a strange intertwining of violence and sex as Marg dangles her fingers on the bow. Joffrey gets immense pleasure from demonstrating the new pullback mechanism, but more fascinating is the deliberate way Marg steers the conversation. She is trying to seduce him, but not with her body. We know Marg is willing to play the game in order to be “The Queen, not A Queen,” and she is off to a great start. When she asks him if he would like to see her kill something with the crossbow, it is the virtual equivalent of asking if he wants to fuck her. He is enthralled as he guides her hands–like the stereotypical first date a guy takes a girl on to the batting cages. I am excited to watch Margaery continue to grow her influence over Joffrey.
Robb’s bannermen are getting restless and want to fight! They sure as hell aren’t happy about this Talisa marriage also, which to them signifies his heart may not be in the war effort anymore.
I can’t imagine Sansa being forthright with the Tyrells is something that won’t later come back to bite her. Each family looks out for their own and no one else. Olenna Tyrell cares about her granddaughter, not about Sansa.
Major Missing Characters Count: Tywin; Stannis & Co.; Dany & Co.; Bronn (not a major character but he’s the man); Baelish; Varys
Was it really necessary to have the scene with the Northmen and Sam crying? I find that by far to be the one I care the least about and my only conclusion is that at some point, perhaps seasons down the road, Sam is going to do something heroic that will make following him worthwhile.
Bran easily wins the award for who grew up the most from Season 1 to 2…his voice is different and he doesn’t have the same exact boyish features as before. Not sure if it’s a problem but it’s definitely noticeable
Where is Varys? I miss that dickless, hairless dude.
Jamie on Renly Baratheon: “It’s a shame the throne isn’t made out of cocks. They would never have gotten him off it.” Amazing.
Joffrey wants to make homosexuality punishable by death. Oh great so now he’s got some Hitler in him. Guy is easily the most evil character on TV right? Definitely doesn’t bode well for Loras.
[update]: one thing I forgot to add is the odd scene between Shae and Tyrion in this episode. Why does Shae think that Tyrion is attracted to Sansa? That didn’t make any sense to me as he clearly is just concerned for her well-being. The character of Shae generally has been kept pretty mysterious (I am presuming she is actually of noble birth from some place far away), but here her reaction to Tyrion just didn’t work for me. Maybe it was a foreigner misunderstanding something? I’m not sure, but it felt weird.
[2nd update]: After looking back on this episode, I think the first 2 episodes would’ve worked better as a 2-hour opening episode. This way the slow pace is more justified as we are being reintroduced to all the characters from last season, and the viewers are willing to put up with it because they are just happy to have Game of Thrones back on Sunday nights.