From a production standpoint, Game of Thrones is not a show that disappoints often. Sure, there is disappointment when favored characters meet their doom, but it’s hard to complain about the direction the writers and producers take most of the stories (with the great Jamie/Cersei rape scene being a glaring exception). I also appreciate how true to the characters the TV series stays (unlike a certain fantasy movie trilogy from the early 2000s that also killed Sean Bean’s character in the first installment).
But I have been disappointed with the use of the Red Viper. While Oberyn Martell’s introduction to the story was spectacular, he has taken a backseat since the Purple Wedding, merely listening and observing. I expected confrontational dialogue and funny quips to be far more common. Instead, the Red Viper is just a background character. Well, he was a background character.
I guess it’s better late than never, but Oberyn is now a central figure in the story. The Red Viper will fight using his poisoned spear to defend Tyrion Lannister and get revenge for the Mountain for killing Oberyn’s sister, niece, and nephew. We also had some rare vulnerability from the Hound, Daenerys and Daario sitting in a tree, some very sudden realizations by Pod and Brianne, and that whole crazy lady falling through the moon door in a cruel twist of irony. (RIP Crazy Lysa)
The action is very focused in the capital this week and Tyrion’s trial by battle is all the rage. First man to discuss it is Jamie, who is upset that Tyrion did not accept the deal that Jamie worked out for him. But even more disappointed is Tyrion, who was counting on his brother to fight for him. But Jamie claims he cannot because of his “hand.” I am not sure if that is the real reason, but it sure is a convenient (but still legitimate) excuse for Tyrion’s brother.
Cersei has found her man!!! If you didn’t recognize him at first, I don’t blame you. This is the third different actor to play the Hound’s brother, The Mountain, Gregor Clegane, sworn sword of the Lannisters. And just to show how vicious he is, we get to see the Mountain randomly killing a bunch of peasants. Who were these men? Why was he brutally killing them? This might be the most ridiculous scene (and not in a good way) the show has produced. I mean, do they just feed the Mountain random peasants like the Sarlacc at the beginning of Return of the Jedi to keep him happy?
Back to the cell, where Bronn is the next man to visit Tyrion. He saved the Imp back in season one in a trial by battle, but he will not be doing it this time. He’s been promised to Lollys Stokeworth (the second daughter to a sworn house of the Lannisters) with the chance for future wealth and advancement. While Bronn did sell out, he uses a very logical argument from his side that allows him and Tyrion to have a fairly friendly parting that sure did seem like (unfortunately for us)a goodbye.
Tyrion does have one more visitor in the cell: the Red Viper. Unlike the previous two, Oberyn is not expected. He revisits the first time he met Tyrion and only seems to anger Tyrion with how much Cersei hated him even from the beginning. But before he goes, Oberyn reveals that he will fight for Tyrion. The reason: the chance for revenge against the Mountain!!! While I criticized the show’s handling of the Red Viper in the beginning of this review, I have to say keeping him the background did make his declaration as Tyrion’s champion more surprising to TV only viewers.
Arya and the Hound continue their tour of the wreckage as pillaging groups continue to burn and steal from the commoners. The Hound ends the misery of one of them, but is bitten on the neck shortly after that by the Biter (one of the three prisoners Arya saved from a fire back in season 2). The Hound makes short work of him before Arya takes care of Rorge (the second prisoner Arya freed). And unlike the hesitation Arya showed in that first episode before killing a man, she wasted no time here sticking Needle into the man she once set free. As it turns out, the Hound is a wanted man for killing Lannister men back in the first episode and the two of them were seeking silver. This realization leads to some real vulnerability from the Hound as he shares with Arya how his brother burned his face and allows Arya to help him heal his wound. Have these two now bonded enough where they don’t the other dead or traded for a ransom?
Jon Snow and his men are back following the burning of Craster’s Keep and he has information on the movements of Mance Rayder. But every recommendation he makes is rejected by Allister Thorne, Lord Commander Douchebag of the Night’s Watch. If the intent here was to make it appear that Thorne rejects everything Jon says just because it’s coming from Jon, then mission accomplished. But we all know the wildlings are coming, even if it is taking them forever to get to the wall.
Just a bunch of talk with little to no action with the Queen of Dragons this week, though we do have her first sexual encounter with Daario to consider. The morning after, Daenarys sends the sellsword to Yunkai, where former slave owners have taken back control of the city. Jorah hears of the plan and does not approve, so Dany makes an adjustment. Instead of sending Daario to slaughter those in disobedience to her, she decides to send Hizdahr zo Loraq (the slave owner’s son who asked Dany if he could give his father a proper funeral in the previous episode) with Daario as an ambassador to try and negotiate the peace. Sure, all this is important to Daenarys story. But why could we not see some of the chaos and rebellion in Yunkai instead of just having to hear about it in meetings?
“I sure hope we get to see Melisandre with Stannis’s wife in Dragonstone this week” said no one ever. I am not sure why Selyse Baratheon has been given such a prominent role this season. Melisandre discusses the various potions she uses and how they are all illusions and fakes. They then discuss Shireen (Stannis and Selyse’s daughter) and how, for some reason, she must go with them to the North when Stannis (finally) rides to the wall.
The Inn at the Crossroads
Welcome back to the show, Hot Pie!!! Arya and Gendry’s traveling buddy from seasons 2 and 3 seems to be enjoying his new job as cook at the Inn and he happens to be the man cooking for Brienne and Podrick. When Hot Pie asks their purpose, Brienne is very open about the job. Pod advises her (very wisely) to keep her trap shut about their job while on the road before Hot Pie sneaks out to tell them privately he has spent time with the other Stark sister. He also has a touching gift for Arya: bread shaped like a wolf. While Brienne finds this information interesting, she dismisses it quickly as Pod comes to the realization (and too quickly if you ask me) that Sansa is likely in the Vale. It was good to see Pod show his intellect. He is proving himself to be quite the asset on the road to finding Sansa. But were they really able to figure out her location that quickly without any evidence other than process of elimination?
Sansa misses snow!!! And she misses Winterfell. So why not build a model of Winterfell in the snow? Sansa’s cousin (and betrothed- yuck!!!!) Robyn comes out and all he can talk about is making people “fly”. And when he finds out Winterfell doesn’t have a moon door, he decides to make one himself. Sansa conducted herself very well up until that. Some season-one-type whining from Sansa leads to Robyn kicking over the whole castle, which Sansa smacks him for.
After Robyn runs off, Sansa’s day only gets weirder. Her creepy uncle Petyr claims she could have been his daughter had things gone his way, but he kisses her since she’s not. Crazy Lysa sees the whole thing and calls Sansa to see her, where she threatens to throw her threw the moon door for trying to take Petyr away from her. But Lord Littlefinger enters the room and convinces Lysa to come to her senses- well, just long enough to tell her he only loved her sister and then push her through the moon door. I expected Jerry Springer to pop on the screen during the credits and give his “Final Thought” after all the family dysfunction going on in the Vale.
Notes and Questions for Next Week
-While Dany and Daario’s affair is a key part to the books, I personally didn’t feel enough has happened between the two to justify starting the affair now. I guess there had to be some action across the Narrow Sea this week. I also don’t understand why we only hear about all the unrest because of Daenarys actions. Why can’t we get at least a glimpse of everything she is concerned about.
-From the preview, it looks like things are about to pick up near the wall as Ygritte and company arrive at Molestown (that “safe place” Sam took Gilly). Hopefully, someone at the wall starts to take Jon Snow’s concerns seriously.
-One of the problems with splitting two seasons between a single book is that some stories advanced faster in season 3 than others, so they seem to be in a holding pattern while waiting on everything else to catch up. So if you’ve felt like (I know I have) things are going nowhere on the wall, crawling like a snail in Meereen, and not peaking your interest at all on Dragonstone, that is why. I will go into more detail about this when the season is over.
-No Game of Thrones next week for Memorial Day (for some reason). So that gives us two weeks to consider the following:
-Who will come out victorious between The Red Viper and the Mountain?
-Will Lord Baelish be held responsible for Lysa’s death or will Sansa lie for him?
-Will the Wildling’s arrival in Molestown put Gilly in danger and finally get things moving at the wall?
-Will Theon be able to convince the Iron Born he wants to be one of them again despite what his sister saw of him last week?
(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)