After the broodingly dark first episode of this young season, we get a little treat this episode as GoT showcases what made everyone fall in love with the show in the first place: the characters. You get everything from this episode: drama, comedy, romance, action—and consequently, for an episode that does relatively little in term of plot movement, it’s immensely enjoyable.
Oh, and remember that thing we were doing where we broke episodes down via what plots were going on where? That was stupid. We changed it: now these recaps will be done breaking down each individual subplot in each location, so you can just check in to see how your favorites are doing or read the whole thing. Enjoy.
The “Sansa being sad” plot
I feel bad for Sophie Turner (the actress who plays Sansa Stark), because so far in the season someone else has stolen all her scenes, while she just has to mope along and be uninteresting. Last episode, her little rendezvous with Littlefinger Baelish (also, his nickname is a small dick joke, in case you hadn’t figured it out) was stolen by the return of Ros, who I have a weird feeling will turn into a much more significant part of the King’s Landing puzzle before the season is out (or maybe I just think she’s hot, or a mixture of both). This time, Sansa gets to eat lunch with Maegery Tyrell (who has looked unreal since coming to King’s Landing) and her grandmother Lady Olenna—who is AWESOME. Lady Olenna is the perfect cool old lady, throwing political tact aside in lieu of a strikingly refreshing wit that is usually absent in King’s Landing, save for Tyrion’s ever-decreasing moments of cleverness. Olenna is clearly concerned for the well-being of Maergery, seemingly the only Tyrell for whom Olenna doesn’t have a hilarious insult. Sansa, being her usual Sansa self, responds with what is expected of her, clearly uncomfortable for fear of her real opinions getting back to the Lannisters. This scene really puts Sansa back into perspective: removing all the politics, the current Stark rebellion, the social pressure of being a woman of the court, Sansa is just a scared little girl, in an atmosphere she hates with people she equally dislikes. Seeing her get some TLC from Olenna and Maegery earns Sansa a lot of sympathy. Also, seeing her publicly denounce Bitchass Joffrey (let’s just call him BJ from now on…is there anything more appropriate? I doubt it. The guy sucks) is a pretty awesome moment—if anyone deserves to deliver a swift kick to BJ’s gonads, it’s Sansa. Also, to get film nerdy for a second, this episode has a lot of conscious directorial detail going on that makes it really cool. For instance, in this scene, the ladies sit around a circular table—a metaphor for equality popularized by Arthurian legend.
The “Bitchass Joffrey is a bitchass” plot
Joffrey. Oh, Joffrey Joffrey Joffrey. What are we ever going to do with you? Joffrey is first seen being fitted for his wedding clothes, where he freaks out about his tailor picking a pattern with flowers on it—the sigil of House Tyrell. This potentially cute gesture gets shot down though, as BJ rants about how unmanly flowers are. Christ, somebody’s insecure. He also gives his mother, Cersei, a large serving of bullshit (which she may or may not deserve), culminating with the fantastically bitchass: “Intelligent women do what they’re told.” Whoa. Pump the breaks there champ. He is then joined by his unbearably cute fiancé Maergery (I know I already brought up her looks, but goddamn.) Oh, and another cool film nerd observation: when interacting with Cersei, Joffrey is always standing on something—a platform or pedestal of some kind—and therefore physically talks down to Cersei as he talks down to Cersei. Awesome. However, he and Maergery are on the same plane their entire scene. Cersei and Maergery are going to butt heads this season, for sure, and this little indicator of where they both (literally) stand is interesting. Anyways, Maegery and Joffrey talk about Joffrey’s upcoming hunting trip (cough cough Robert Baratheon…get it?) and he shows her his new crossbow (of course BJ can’t use a real bow), which he shoots at a boar’s head on the wall (COUGH COUGH COUGH ROBERT BARATHEON GET IT?!). Maergery tries to seduce Joffrey, or at least touch his hand, but when she sees he’s more into his crossbow, she starts posing with it and asking if he thinks she could kill something. Joffrey’s incessant violence against women hints at him being a misogynistic little pervert, and Maegery may or may not have picked up on this. Only time will tell. Oh, and one more thing—Maergery tells Joffrey that Renly Baratheon had sex with her butt. I don’t have adequate time or space to express how amusing this moment is, but…it’s there.
The “Tyrion is awesome” plot
Oh, you had enough of Tyrion as an emotionally vulnerable sadsack? Well, never fear. Although this plot probably moves the least distance forward, this scene is still a touching highlight of the episode. Last episode highlighted how alone the Half-man is, now effectively trapped in a city run by his sometimes-homicidal family. This episode shines a little light, though, and does it with Shae. Although I don’t think Sibel Kekilli (who plays Shae—use your context clues guys) is a phenomenal actress, she definitely has really good chemistry with Peter Dinklage, which is, I guess, all she really needs. Shae shows up in Tyrion’s room, they have a very playful little reunion, and Shae finally pulls Tyrion out of his excessive paranoia—via blowjob. So high fives for Tyrion for having the first sex scene this season!
The “Theon Greyjoy and his ugly face” plot
Theon Greyjoy gets tortured in an undisclosed location and one of his captors reveals that he’s in the employ of his sister Asha, and is going to free Theon. That’s about it. My hunch: the whole thing is some twisted loyalty test from Theon’s father, who wasn’t a huge fan of Theon in season 2. But we’ll see…in the meantime, I’m glad to see Theon get his shit kicked in for a little. Hate that guy.
In the Crownlands
The “When are Brienne and Jamie going to team up?” plot
One of the biggest strengths of Game of Thrones is the buildup to the fights. The show loves building up people’s abilities so that when they fight, we’re excited for it. Jamie Lannister is a prime example. Widely considered one of the premier swordsmen in Westeros, we have seen Jamie get into only one real legitimate swordfight with Ned Stark in Season 1. So, when we get Jamie alone in the woods with the obviously strong Brienne of Tarth, the first thing that comes to mind is: when is the swordfight? We’ve already seen Brienne of Tarth beat down lesser knights, and Jamie narrowly defeat Ned Stark, but we haven’t seen either of them in a real life-or-death competition with someone of equal talent—until now. Jamie gets a hold of one of Brienne’s swords, and they have a pretty hardcore battle on top of a bridge. And, yeah, Jamie’s good—switching up his stances like a pro and coaching Brienne through some of the finer points of swordplay. Oh, and he’s in handcuffs the entire time. Badass. However, Brienne holds her own (if not wins) and the two get captured by Locke of House Bolton, a family loyal to House Stark (Lord Bolton appears in this episode when he delivers news to Catelyn and Robb Stark). So wait, a common enemy? MAYBE THEY’LL FINALLY TEAM UP?! Again with the buildup.
Also, this scene also has probably my favorite moment of this episode: Jamie and Brienne are, in my opinion, the best duo of characters in the series thus far. Jamie loves messing with the big lady, busting her chops about her former employer Renly Baratheon. It’s all fun and games until Jamie goes too far with a joke about Renly’s homosexuality, and Brienne puts a sword to his throat—only to be met with a wide-eyed and weirdly genuine Jamie Lannister, who tells her that he doesn’t judge, and that “you can’t pick the ones you love.” Oh…right. He bangs his sister. This is one of the most tender Jamie moments of the entire series, and the fact that it happens with Brienne of Tarth is not lost on me. Maybe, if Jamie can convince her that he’s more human than she thinks she is, they can finally team up and do some damage together. Or at least, I hope.
Beyond the Wall
The “Sam Tarly is fat” plot
Hey, Sam’s fat. He’s unfit for battle, so the other guys don’t like him that much. But wait! He has friends who are there for him! So it’ll be ok. Right? Wait until next week to find out!…yeah, I’m a little bored of the Night’s Watch sans Jon Snow. It seems like the most typical adventure plot of the series: guy isn’t cut out for it, has friends to help him through, matures into adventurer. Yawn. Really the only thing keeping me remotely interested in the Night’s Watch march back to the Wall is Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, a rough-around-the-edges old salty dog who orders Sam to not die. I really like the relationship between the Lord Commander and Sam—which I unfortunately think is going to end with typically sappy cathartic moment. “No Sam, you’re not a fighter…but you’ve got a great heart, which is all the rarer to find.” Or some shit like that. Or maybe they’ll all turn into zombies. Wouldn’t that be fun.
The “Jon Snow needs to get laid” plot
Ciaran Hinds, what the hell kind of accent is that? Stop it. Stop it right now. Bad English (maybe?) accent aside, Hinds deliver in his first real Mance Rayder role. He has a nice conversation with Jon Snow about how he came into power beyond the Wall, and what got a bunch of barbarians who all hate each other to work together on a massive scale: fear. Besides showing how awesome Mance Rayder is(he apparently speaks all 7 of the Wildling languages? Ok.), this scene also shows what a threat the White Walkers are—even this host of murderous barbarians and giants will still put together something as heated as a blood feud to escape them. Oh, also the Wildings have sorcerers that can possess animals’ bodies? And they’re called what?…Wargs? Like…the big dog things from Lord of the Rings? Really? That obvious of an LOTR reference? You go straight to hell, George R.R. Martin. Get a more clever title than “ser” and stop taking names from Tolkien. Jesus. Well, at least Ygritte is still cute.
In the North
The “Team Hodor” plot
After being stabbed in the back by Theon Greyjoy, the remainder of the Stark clan—Bran Stark (who’s full name is Brandon…what’s with the Starks having lame-ass names? Ned? Robb? Brandon? Jon? C’mon.) and his younger brother Rickon (…point proven) are on the move to the Wall, really the last safe place for Starks in Westeros. They are joined by Bad Bitch Osha, an ex-Wildling, and loveable simple half-giant Hodor—who only communicates by saying his own name (LIKE A BOSS). They also have their two direwolves Summer and Shaggydog. I know what you’re thinking, and I agreed, Shaggydog is a crap name. But, in the big scheme of things, I would take a direwolf named Blue Dog Shit (American Gangster reference…no Denzel fans out there? Shame. Moving on.) just on the virtue that IT’S A BIG ASS WOLF! And therefore, awesome.
Team Hodor (which is how I’m now referring to this group) then encounters Jojen and Meera Reed, a sibling duo that has been tracking Team Hodor. Apparently, the Reeds and the Starks are old friends, and Jojen bonds with Bran over his magical visions, as Jojen also has the same powers (They’re both wargs, a term I’m still salty about). What I’m more excited about is that Team Hodor is heading to the Wall, where (if they time it right) they’ll meet up with Jon Snow and Mance Rayder’s Wildling army—which Osha must have some connection with. Also, the show has already alluded to the Wildling’s affinity for giants. Hodor? Hodor.
In the Riverlands
The “Increasingly poor decisions of Robb Stark” plot
First of all, if you didn’t get the joke there, there’s a show called “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” on IFC. Watch it if you haven’t.
Second of all, wow. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) delivers one of her best moments to date this episode. First of all, she learns that Bran and Rickon have yet to be found. Sad. Then she learns her father, the lord of Riverrun, has died. Double sad. Her and Robb take a hiatus from war to go attend the funeral, much to the rapidly growing displeasure from his lieutenants. I’m not an expert, but this doesn’t seem like a fantastic tactical move. But, Robb makes the call, and off they go.
But the real magic of this scene comes from Fairley. Queen Talisa approaches her while Catelyn is making an amulet of protection for her children, an apparent ritual of hers whenever the little Starks are in trouble. They talk, and Catelyn delivers a stunningly emotional speech about how she blames all of the Starks’ misfortune on her mistreatment of the bastard Jon Snow. It doesn’t sound like much, but Fairley is fantastic—Catelyn is a complex woman of pride and pain, a fiercely loyal mother who only wants what’s best for her children. And this scene shows it.
The “Arya Stark is my favorite character on this show” plot
ARYA! Yes. I’m a huge fan of Arya Stark (or as the Dog refers to her – the Stark bitch)—I think she’s going to turn into an unbelievably badass assassin, and she’s my #1 on my list of “People Who I Want to Kill Bitchass Joffrey.” She has a charm, intelligence, and humor about her that makes her a consistently enjoyable character to watch, and also has some of the coolest friends: in Season 1 she had the fantastic Syrio Forel, the First Sword of Braavos, and in Season 2 had the unbelievably awesome “faceless man” Jaqen H’ghar (WHO MIGHT HAVE ALSO BEEN SYRIO FOREL? Whoa.) She is now joined by an heir to the Iron Throne: Robert Baratheon’s bastard son Gendry, the smith’s apprentice. Oh, and Hot Pie. The fat kid’s name is Hot Pie (I’m sorry for getting upset at you about the warg thing, George R.R. Martin. You clearly know what you’re doing. Hot Pie. Fantastic.). The little trio decides to head to Riverrun (quiz time: who else is going to Riverrun?), but is discovered by the Brotherhood Without Banners, which is apparently a thing in Westeros. Sounds cool. They met Thoros of Myr and his buddy Anguy the Archer, or, as I like to call him, Cool Legolas. Thoros and Cool Legolas take Arya back to their camp, where Arya tries to prove she can fight by sparring with Thoros. She loses quickly and absolutely—but here’s that buildup again. I can’t wait for Arya to kick someone’s ass. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane also shows up, having been captured by the Brotherhood after passing out drunk (classic Sandor). The Hound has made it very clear he has no great love for Bitchass Joffrey or his brother Gregor, and beyond that, has even shown a sweet side for Sansa. Sandor is an immensely complex and interesting character, as well as being an absolute badass, and I don’t think the show gives him enough love. But the prospect of he and Arya teaming up makes me happy. And Cool Legolas. That guy is awesome.
Overall, I really liked this episode. Episode 1 did a great job setting the grim tone for this season, and episode 2 was a great vehicle to reconnect with some of the great characters that didn’t get a chance to sneak into last week. I’m happy Arya, the Hound, Hodor, Brienne, and Jamie are back, and I think this episode had a lot of really great moments in it. However, this episode still suffers from “First Couple of Episodes in a Massively Epic Show” syndrome, and it’ll be at least another week or two before we get into the thick of things.
Rating: 3.5 poorly-named wargs out of 5.
Fanboy gift of the week: Arya Stark in an unbearably cute flash mob.