Monday, April 25, 2016

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Red Woman

Well we're back. And Jon Snow is dead. Dead as a doornail. There is no doubt whatever about that. Let me repeat emphatically that Jon Snow is dead. But this is no Christmas Carol. We open with a panoramic shot of the Castle Black courtyard centered on Snow's corpse to make that fact clear. We hear Ghost howling with grief and scratching at the door. Not for nothing but you would think that the Stark children would know by now not to get separated from their wolves. It seems like bad things happen. Davos knows something's up so he leaves his room and discovers Jon's body. Along with some of the Night's Watch members who didn't stab Jon 5011 times he takes Jon's corpse inside. Everyone immediately knows Thorne did it. But Dolorous Edd says that they can't trust anyone who's not in the room. Melisandre enters. She says she saw Jon fighting at Winterfell in her flames. Davos is less interested in prophecies and more interested in getting people to guard against the attack which he knows must be coming. He suggests setting Ghost free. While Jon's friends are ready to make a last stand and go out hard, Davos thinks it's better to make a stand and survive. He convinces Dolorous Edd to go for help. Exactly who Edd is going to ask for help is unsaid but I would guess that that Davos is talking about the wildlings. Meanwhile Thorne is overseeing a meeting to explain what happened. As he says, and he may well be honest here, he never liked Jon Snow. But Thorne never disobeyed orders. But he could not stand by and countenance Jon letting the wildlings thru the Wall and giving them lands where they had often robbed, raped and pillaged. Thorne, and several other Night's Watch leaders saw that as treason to the Night Watch. It was something that would destroy the Night's Watch. It violated, as they saw it, the whole purpose of the Night's Watch. So they had to act. Thorne isn't hiding anything. Later on Thorne knocks on the door of the room where Davos and the die hard Snow loyalists are hiding. He offers to give amnesty to anyone who lays down their weapons and provide Davos and Melisandre safe passage south. But they've got to surrender before nightfall. Thorne won't say what will happen after that but then again I don't suppose he has to does he?

Davos politely agrees to consider the offer. When Thorne leaves Davos scorns the offer and says they're dead if they agree to it. Not a very trusting fellow that Davos. Davos muses that they need to get Melisandre on their side. Otherwise Dolorous Edd is their only chance. At Winterfell Ramsay Bolton mourns over Myranda's corpse. He reminisces about their happy times together and promises vengeance. Even so he orders the maester to feed the corpse to his dogs. Roose congratulates his son on their victory over a depleted and demoralized Baratheon army. But Roose being Roose he has to stick the knife in to Ramsay. He reminds Ramsay that by marrying Sansa Stark, the Boltons have made an enemy of the Lannisters. And a Lannister always pays his debts. To fight the Lannisters the Boltons will need the entire North. To unify the North they need Sansa Stark and an heir. Ramsay has lost both. But no matter, Roose's wife will produce an heir. So Ramsay needn't worry after all. Isn't that wonderful? Roose, as always, looks quite pleased with himself. Sansa and Reek Theon are running away from the Bolton hounds and soldiers. 
They cross the river in an attempt to throw off the hounds. They take respite in a crevice beneath a tree. Theon hugs Sansa in an attempt to share his body warmth. But before they can get warm and start to recall all the good times they had at Winterfell, the hounds and soldiers are upon them. Apparently they didn't fall for the old "hide my scent by crossing running water" routine. Either finding nobility or simply tired of running, Theon tells Sansa to get to Castle Black where her brother Jon is Lord Commander. He then steps out in front of the soldiers to give her a chance to flee. The soldiers want to know where Sansa is but Theon claims she's dead. Well noses don't lie. The dogs find Sansa, who is apparently too tired and cold to run any longer. At that point, Brienne and Podrick (well mostly Brienne) show up and make mincemeat of the Bolton crew. In a bit of a cliched scene, Theon finds something of his shattered soul/manhood by stabbing someone who was just about to kill Podrick. Brienne again offers her loyalty and service to Sansa. This time Sansa accepts, though she's still shivering and has to be coached through some of the words.

A pensive Cersei hears of a ship returning from Dorne. Excited she goes down to the harbor. But she can tell by Jaime's expression that their daughter is dead. She admits that Myrcella was nothing like her. Myrcella was good, honest and decent. Cersei starts to obsess over the ugly physical changes of death and speaks of the prophecy that all of her children will die before her. Jaime interrupts to say f*** the prophecy and f*** everyone who is not a Lannister. He promises revenge. Margaery is still in prison. She wants to see her brother Loras. A septa reads scripture to her and urges her to confess. Margaery won't do that. The septa gets upset. She is about to lay hands on Margaery in a non-pleasant way. But before the beating can commence the High Sparrow, who has presumably been watching, decides to play Good Cop to the Septa's Bad Cop. He also urges confession and in a psychological twist gets Margaery to admit that no one is truly without sin. In Braavos Arya is living the streets as a blind beggar girl. Some people drop coins in her bowl. But apparently this is all just part of a test as the Waif girl comes to ask Arya if she has been listening. As most of us would likely do Arya is like what? And that's when the Waif gives Arya a quarterstaff and commands her to fight. Being blind is Arya's problem, not hers, says the Waif. The Waif beats up Arya something fierce. She promises to see Arya tomorrow. Apparently the beatings will continue until Arya's other senses, and answers, improve. Jorah and Daario are searching for Daenerys. Daario teases Jorah about his unrequited love for Daenerys but Jorah is beyond taking offense. All the same if you were alone with a desperate and armed romantic rival wouldn't you be a bit careful about what you said to him or her? If I were Daario I might not turn my back to Jorah. There's a lot of ways a man can die out there in the wilderness. Anyway Jorah finds Daenerys' ring. He also checks himself and sees that the greyscale is still spreading. 

In Meereen Varys and Tyrion walk through the city without any bodyguards to get the lay of the land. Varys corrects Tyrion's Valyrian when Tyrion tries to tell an impoverished woman that he wants to give her money so that she can feed her baby. From what the duo can tell the lower classes are starting to turn against Daenerys. The Lord of Light is also gaining more followers. And oh yes, while they're out walking, someone has burned all of Daenerys' ships. Speaking of Daenerys she has been made a slave of the local Dothraki horde. Her two guards muse about what she looks like naked. They reach their encampment and turn her over to Khal Moro, their leader. In what seems like a humorous nod to Monty Python's "What have the Romans ever done for us" riff, Khal Moro declares that there is nothing more magnificent than seeing a woman nude for the first time. His lieutenants, being the philosophical contrarians that they are, counter with various other events in life, which mostly involve pillaging and looting. Khal Moro, rolling his eyes, concedes the point by saying ok, seeing a woman nude for the first time must be among the FIVE greatest things in life. And as his hands are straying closer to his weapons, his lieutenants know now is the time to shut up. Daenerys reveals that not only does she speak Dothraki but she is Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name, blah blah blah. That doesn't impress the Dothraki much but when she tells them that she is Khal Drogo's widow that gives Khal Moro pause. One does not rape or enslave a fellow Khal's widow. No the proper plan of action is to take Daenerys to Vaes Dothrak to live with the other widowed Khaleesis.

In Dorne Prince Doran is taking a rare walk though his gardens, assisted by his effective sister-in-law, Ellaria Sand. He talks of his brother Oberyn's adventures and erotic exploits. He envied Oberyn those things but hey someone had to rule and as oldest that fell to him. Ellaria smiles and agrees and helps her lover's brother back to his throne. At that point a maester(?)/messenger (?) brings news of Myrcella's death. But before Doran can do anything other than look shocked Ellaria and the Sand Snakes kill Areo Hotah and Doran and the messenger too for good measure. The other guards look on impassively as Ellaria stabs Doran at least ten thousand times. She calls him weak and insults him for never taking vengeance for Elia's and Oberyn's death. Dorne can no longer be ruled by weak men. And that writ includes his son Trystane, who is murdered by his cousins the Sand Snakes on his ship. I wonder if all the people who were clutching their pearls about the show's alleged violence against women problem will stop watching because a woman drove an 8 foot spear through the back of her male cousin's head and joked about it. I'm betting not. The show's final scene was both a bit of fanservice and a confirmation of some theories. Melisandre (cleavage alert!) is standing in front of the mirror in her typical low cut gown. She has been looking in the fires. She looks depressed. She takes off her gown and stares at herself. She then removes her ruby choker. It would appear that Melisandre is not a young woman but rather a woman who is well over a hundred years old. Maybe she's multiple centuries old. Either way she's older than dirt and looks about as attractive as mud. Evidently she's having a crisis of faith and wanted to remind herself who she is.

What I liked

  • I liked the ending of the Doran storyline. He was boring. In the books GRRM spends a lot of time on Doran and his plans for his son. It was even more boring than the show. I am happy that the show creators have apparently confirmed that Doran and Areo Hotah were not important to the end game.
  • The joking between Khal Moro and his lieutenants.
  • The oath of allegiance between Brienne and Sansa
  • Ghost
  • Melisandre (and not just for the obvious reasons either). I thought that the actress did a pretty good job communicating spiritual crisis. I was reminded of those people who run around saying that the world is going to end on this day. When it doesn't end, what do they do if they were true believers?
  • Roose's jocular mood. He makes evil look fun.

What I didn't like

  • If you discovered that close relatives were involved in a plot to work against your interests, would you, like Prince Doran, have these relatives free and walking around you with weapons? I'm guessing not. I just don't like Dorne, either in the books or the show. But even though I'm happy Doran is off the show his demise at the hands of his female relatives feels like fanservice to people who were upset at the Sansa storyline. 
  • Varys and Tyrion walking around without any bodyguards. I suppose that given how ineffective The Unsullied have been in street fighting Varys and Tyrion could have decided they would be better off without them. Still given that some unknown people in Meereen just tried to take out Daenerys and ALL of her supporters, some sort of protection detail might be in order.
  • I thought Trystane was on the same boat with Myrcella? Even if he wasn't he apparently knew about her death? Why was he just sitting around without any guards? Oh well. It's not like he will be missed.
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