Monday, April 22, 2013

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: And Now His Watch Is Ended

I don't know that episodes have themes but if they do this one was certainly about the dangers of underestimating people. Folks are not always what they seem to be. Not realizing that and not looking beneath the surface can be dangerous.

This week's episode starts with the travelogue of Jaime and Brienne. Jaime is forced to wear his severed hand as a necklace. He's the subject of much mockery from Locke and his men, particularly about his incestuous relationship with his sister. When Jaime falls off his horse from exhaustion and dehydration, Locke gives him horse urine to drink. Despite this Jaime is able to pull off the same trick he did last week with Brienne and steal a sword in an escape attempt. Brienne tries to come to his aid but is prevented from doing so. Jaime was limited by being manacled last week but now it's painfully obvious that he simply can't fight left-handed. Westeros' greatest swordsman is now laughably inept. It's like watching Ali get beat by Spinks or Holmes. After Jaime's disarmed he's beaten some more and Locke tells him not to try that again unless he cares to lose his other hand. Later, Jaime has all but lost the will to survive. Brienne finds this disgusting and challenges Jaime's manhood. When a 6'4" woman tells you to stop acting like a little b**** you're probably going to pay attention.

In King's Landing Tyrion visits a rather busy and distracted Varys. Tyrion wants proof that Cersei was behind his attempted murder. Varys says he has no proof, just word on the street. Varys knows that Tyrion wants revenge. Varys explains that, as a child, a magician castrated him. That's why he was pleased that the Melisandre assisted Stannis didn't win King's Landing. Varys explains that it took YEARS of enduring some very unpleasant circumstances and actions before he could move from the streets to his current level of power. And that is when Tyrion sees what's in the box that Varys is excitedly opening. It's the magician who castrated Varys. The moral of the story is that revenge can take time and patience.

Varys gets a debriefing from Roz. Evidently Podrick Payne is blessed with what his Daddy gave him because the prostitutes who didn't charge him said Podrick was hard to describe. But sex gossip is not all that Roz has to share. She lets Varys know that Littlefinger is leaving for the Eyrie and hasn't lost interest in Sansa Stark. Varys is concerned about this.
Joffrey leads Margaery on a Red Keep tour complete with special detail to kings who died violently or better yet from Joffrey's pov, made other people die violently. Margaery kisses up to Joffrey, although Cersei can see through this pretty easily. Margaery leads Joffrey out to greet the public. Olenna Tyrell and Cersei commiserate about the realities of male dominance and how neither sons nor husbands listen to the women in their lives. Perhaps feeling emboldened by this estrogen fueled discussion Cersei goes to see her Daddy, Tywin. Just as he was when Tyrion came to see him, Tywin is very busy writing letters and by his body language (and I LOVE Charles Dance in this role) would just as soon not be bothered. Cersei says she wants to be sure Tywin is doing everything he can to get Jaime back. Tywin says he didn't even like Tyrion but he started a war to get him back. So what do you think he's doing for the son he actually likes? DUH! When Cersei still won't leave a noticeably annoyed Tywin wonders what her real issue is. Cersei says that she thinks the Tyrells, Margaery particularly, are a bad influence on Joffrey. She also thinks her father is overlooking her talents because she's a woman.

Tywin says he doesn't overlook Cersei because she's a woman. He doesn't trust her with everything because she's not THAT smart and from what he's seen, given the mess she's let Joffrey make, perhaps some outside influence could be a good thing. Cersei angrily challenges Tywin to take a hand (ha-ha) with Joffrey and Tywin says he'll do just that. Tywin is serenely unflappable. Say what you will about the man but I want him on my team when it goes down hard.

Meanwhile the unknown young man (UYM) is leading Theon to Deepwood Motte, which has been taken by Yara, Theon's sister. The UYM claims to be an Iron Islander forced to work for Theon's torturers. Desperate for someone to talk to Theon shares his guilt at having killed two boys and having pretended to everyone they were Bran and Rickon Stark. Theon also shares his frustration at both hating the Starks and wanting to be one of them. Poignantly he says Ned Stark was his real father. However while he's having his Lifetime approved heart to heart he fails to notice that the UYM has keys to various gates and doors. UYM tells him that his sister is upstairs but in fact he's led Theon right back to the torture chamber, where Theon is promptly strapped to the rack again on the UYM's orders.
At Craster's home the Night's Watch members mutter about how the whole Night's Watch experience isn't what it was cracked up to be. Later, at a funeral of a brother crow, other men blame Craster for keeping all of the good food for himself and starving them. For his part Craster is tired of the Night's Watch. He boasts about how he's killed his boys. He suggests orders that the Night's Watch leave now, killing its wounded or leaving them to Craster to kill if they lack the guts. Arguments break out and insults fly. Lord Commander Mormont is losing control. Craster grabs an axe and things temporarily calm down but when Craster is insulted again, blood must flow. Craster is murdered. Mormont is also murdered when he tries to settle things down. Full mutiny breaks out and the Night's Watch starts to fight among itself. Sam, knowing that more rape and murder are imminent, runs to save Gilly and her new son. There's a short sequence with Bran dreaming again.

Varys goes to see Olenna Tyrell, who is immune to his flattery. Varys claims to want to help Sansa because he couldn't help Ned. He also states that Littlefinger is dangerous and that he doesn't want Littlefinger to marry Sansa. The Queen of Thorns claims the solution is obvious and sends Margaery to talk to Sansa. The upshot of their conversation is that when Margaery is Queen she can arrange marriages as she sees fit and hopes that Sansa will consider a marriage to her brother Loras. Sansa seems interested in this.
Arya and Gendry and The Hound have been taken to the Brotherhood Without Banners' secret hideout. The Hound insults everyone claiming they aren't soldiers but is surprised and worried to learn that Beric Dondarrion, who is a soldier, is their leader. Ned Stark sent Beric to capture or kill Gregor Clegane, The Hound's brother. Now the BWB is a popular resistance force to not only the Lannisters but anyone who harms the land's peasants and non-nobles. The BWB accuses The Hound of various atrocities. He sneers and correctly points out he didn't do them. The Hound only takes responsibility for things he did. It's only when Arya speaks up and reminds him of her friend, Mycah, a 12 year old boy that the Hound murdered on Joffrey's orders, that Sandor admits to the crime. In a pretty good example of how people justify horrible things the man who just 30 seconds ago was advocating for individual moral responsibility now says it's not his role to question orders from royals. Beric says he will face the Hound in trial by combat.

And in this episode's best scene, one which stays close to the books, in Astapor, Daenerys brings her chained largest dragon to the slaver Kraznys. Jorah and Barristan look worried. Once he has the dragon's chain, Kraznys gives the whip, the symbol of authority over The Unsullied, to Daenerys. Her dragon, Drogon, is screaming and whimpering for Daenerys with an almost human tone to its cries. It seems that's just the price Daenerys had to pay. However Danerys establishes control over The Unsullied. Only Missandei notices this as Kraznys is still trying to get control of Drogon. It's only when Kraznys makes one last sexist insult that he realizes that's he's made something of a rather critical mistake. It will be his last.
Daenerys answers him in his own language, or rather her own language. Targaryens are after all Valyrian and speak and understand their mother tongue perfectly. She explains to him that he can't enslave the dragon because dragons aren't slaves. Daenerys orders The Unsullied to kill all the slavers; she orders Drogon to burn Kraznys alive.
Later she asks The Unsullied to follow her of their own free will, which they do. I loved these ending scenes. The Daenerys reveal was a nice little surprise that was reminiscent of Tolkien's Witch King, who could be killed by no man, discovering that he was fighting a woman or Macbeth, confident that no man born of woman could slay him, learning that Macduff was delivered by Cesarean section. In short you should always read the fine print. Never underestimate people. Daenerys is coming into her own.

*This post is written for discussion of this episode and previous episodes.  If you have book based knowledge of future events please be kind enough not to discuss that here.  NO SPOILERS. NO BOOK DERIVED HINTS ABOUT FUTURE EVENTS. Most of my blog partners have not read the books and would take spoilers most unkindly. Heads, spikes, well you get the idea....
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