Game of Thrones

What’s Going on in Game of Thrones?

BY DEVIN KIRBY

Jesus, one Sunday later and I’m already fed up with Game of Thrones not being on TV. And, if you’re reading this, it means that you are too. So let me help you out by giving you a final big heaping portion of GoT.

Season 3 threw a lot at us. Some new faces showed up, some minor characters rose to prominence, and some major characters wound up with their throats cut and their unborn babies stabbed. All in all, it was a crazy—and beautiful—television event. And the possibility of a whole new season living up to (or dare I say, exceeding) the epic high bar set by season 3 is just…I don’t know.

Would you still read my blogs if I said arousing? Ahem.

So here’s what we’re going to do: go character by character, storyline by storyline, with my editor’s favorite scenes interspersed throughout and see what went down in the past 10 episodes…and what may or may not happen in the future.

With that, here’s what’s going on in Game of Thrones:

THE LAST DRAGON DAENERYS TARGARYEN

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Barristan Selmy: I just want to see this dude kill someone. Is that so much to ask?

Barristan is really going to make his money when the gang gets back to Westeros. He’s obviously still in high esteem there—every time he’s been brought up in the entire series he gets pretty positive reviews. I think he’s going to be a big player down the line.

Jorah Mormont: Dany’s right hand man since day 1, Jorah kind of wore on my nerves this season. I get that he is the calm hand to help Dany politic her way back to Westeros, but at some point the voice of reason just devolves into a repetitive drone—see also Dale from AMC’s The Walking Dead.

I think Daenerys is slowly outgrowing good old Jorah. She’s getting increasingly capable of taking care of herself, and she has adopted the attitude that risks need to be taken in order for her to be successful—like her ballsy call to take Yunkai. Both of these budding traits—Dany’s political maturation and her growing willingness to roll the dice—are becoming more and more essential to her quest for the Iron Throne, rendering Jorah’s counsel obsolete at best and counterproductive at worst.

There’s also the weird little power struggle between Jorah and Barristan Selmy. Barristan believes that Jorah, an exile from Westeros after selling men into slavery, will hurt Dany’s public image when she tries to rally support in the mainland for the reinstatement of the Targaryen dynasty. This obviously doesn’t sit well with Jorah, but I think the show did a poor job this season of reminding people that Jorah is head-over-heels in love with Dany—an emotion that I think is at the root of his political devotion to her.

Also, his dad Jeor died. He was the late Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch that gets murdered at Craster’s Keep. I don’t think this will amount to much for Jorah, but it still sucks.

Probably the biggest obstacle ahead for Jorah is going to come when they finally make it back to Westeros, which has finally a real possibility now that they have Yunkai. Earlier in season 1, Jorah was feeding information to Lord Varys in an attempt to get back in the crown’s good graces. He’s since stopped being a rat, but I’m sure Dany still won’t be too pleased if and when she finds out. Also I have this nagging feeling that he’s getting jealous of how close other men—like Barristan and now the exotic Daario Naharis—are getting to Dany. Jorah, usually the voice of restraint, isn’t my first pick to commit a crime a passion, but hey. Walder Frey wasn’t my first pick to kill the entire Stark clan either.

Daario Naharis: Probably the best looking man Dany has seen since Khal Drogo died, Daario Naharis came in as an enigma and, well, pretty much stayed that way. We do know a couple things about him, however: he loves the ladies, occasionally slips into the third person, and has sweet weapons—namely his naked lady-hilted dagger and giant sickle-sword thing. He also is the sole reason Dany has Yunkai, which is a pretty big power move on his part.

As far as what role he’s going to play in reclaiming the throne, I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind seeing him and Dany get down to business. But beyond that, this dude is a complete wild card for whatever lies ahead.

Grey Worm: I could watch Little Obama twirl his little spear around all day. His one fight sequence in episode 9 was probably the craziest weaponplay in the show to date.

Just please don’t let Grey Worm die. Please.

Daenerys Targaryen: Dany. Light of my life, fire of my loins. Stormborn and Breaker of Chains and She of the Nice Boobies.

Dany’s maturity as a leader has had a direct parallel to the age of her dragons, and now, like her dragons, Dany is starting to come into her own as a legitimate badass. I still maintain that her time in Qarth with Xaro Xhoan Daxos was a big step in her development as a leader. Since then, she has stopped relying on men (earlier, she leaned on her brother Viserys, then Khal Drogo, and finally Xaro Xhoan Daxos) and has emerged as a prudent negotiator and charismatic leader in her own right. I’ve absolutely loved what the show has done with her, and I think Emilia Clarke has done an outstanding job of bringing Dany to life.

So now the young queen has 8,000 Unsullied, 2,000 Second Sons, 3 dragons, 200,000 freed Yunkai slaves, and a crazy amount of gold (remember that Yunkai was willing to give her a chest full of gold and several ships just as a token of goodwill). She also has Barristan Selmy, an aforementioned hero of Westeros, backing her cause, for what that’s worth. I know I harp on the implied importance of Barristan a lot, but I really think that people underestimate what a spectacularly decorated individual he is, and how big of an impact his backing of Dany’s reinstatement will be.

Also, if she hurries up and gets there, Dany can save the day for Westeros. The White Walkers are marching on the Seven Kingdoms, and no one has any idea how to stop them—the Night’s Watch is so desperate they have called upon every single lord in Westeros to come to the realm’s aid. This season revealed that dragonglass—weapons forged from the fire of dragons—can kill the White Walkers. So, if Dany shows up with a bunch of dragons, I think the Seven Kingdoms will stand a significantly better chance against the oncoming army of the dead. And that would also make Dany a hero and savior of the realm.

I think that is the most likely course of Dany’s storyline, due to the fact that her and Jon Snow have to cross paths eventually (it is a Song of Ice and Fire). And what better moment to do so then when they both are fighting a common enemy, Dany is striving for the throne, and Jon is looking for revenge against the regime that has torn his family apart (which I assume he will after he finds out about some recent red developments). Are you pumped at the idea of a Stark-Targaryen superalliance? Yeah, me too.

THE IRON ISLES TROLLING EVERYBODY

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Balon Greyjoy: One of the three usurpers named by Stannis Baratheon, Balon recently declared himself King of the Iron Isles, effectively seceding from the Seven Kingdoms. He has also more recently seceded from his dickless son, to the disapproval of his daughter Yara.

Balon, when the North plummeted into turmoil after the death of Ned Stark, seized the opportunity and started raiding the countryside. But there’s a new sheriff in town (or warden or whatever), and his name is Roose Bolton. And he’s not a guy who’s bad side you want to be on.

There is also the whole Lord of Light death sentence thing…we’ll get into that whole insane religious talk later (if you can’t wait, skip down to the STANNIS THE MANNIS section).

Yara Greyjoy: Yara (WHO IS ASHA IN THE BOOKS AND I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY THEY CHANGED IT?) is fed up with Balon’s mistreatment of Theon. She understands that he is somewhat of an outsider to House Greyjoy, having been raised by the Starks, but also acknowledges that Theon is, at his core, a Greyjoy—and heir to the throne of Pyke. Her father’s choice to let Theon die instead of give up the meager lands the Ironborn have taken in the North was the straw that broke Yara’s back, and now she’s taking the fastest of her ships and 50 of her best men to storm the Dreadfort and liberate her dear brother.

I want to spend some time with Yara next season. In season 2 she was painted as the best commander in the entire Ironborn navy (the people of the Iron Isles being some of the best seafaring folk in Westeros), and I’d love to see her live up to some of that hype.

Theon Greyjoy: Oh, poor little Theon. Never anyone’s favorite, Theon has spent an entire season in a Bolton dungeon getting physically and mentally tortured by Ramsay Snow. His dad gave him the biggest middle finger ever. He’s wracked with guilt over what he did to the Starks and Winterfell. Just generally not a good 10 episodes for Prince Theon.

But, help is on its way. Yara is en route to free Theon. And hopefully kill that weirdo Ramsay Snow.

Assuming Yara succeeds and Theon makes it back to Pyke in whatever can be considered one piece at this point, the Greyjoys still have a couple problems on their hands. Roose Bolton, now Warden of the North, has a bone to pick with Balon’s invasion. We’ve already seen the ridiculous lengths the Boltons will go to make their point, and I’m sure making an example out of the Greyjoys would be a move Roose would love to make.

There’s also the summoning of everybody to march north against the White Walkers. Balon doesn’t seem to interested in anything besides his own domain, so, if he did get a raven, I have a hard time believing he would commit to the greater good. But maybe Theon will think differently about it.

TEAM HODOR

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Bran Stark/Jojen Reed: Having split in two, this subgroup of Team Hodor has made it to the Wall and has been equipped by Sam Tarly with dragonglass to try to survive beyond it. Bran is still searching for his spirit-raven, and Jojen is still looking for answers about their powers. It is known to them that the Wildlings have been able to somewhat harness their warg powers—like Orell and his hawk—but this new magical ability is still largely a mystery to both Bran and Jojen.

I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen to these kids. Not even a guess. A raven is a messenger, and the three eyes suggest that it is a messenger for something supernatural. Is it some other superwarg’s spirit animal to lure Bran? I thought for a while they would be led to another cache of dragonglass and help the war effort, but that seems increasingly unlikely. It can’t be Wildlings they’re going to find—they’re all south of the Wall by this point.

So, uh. We’ll see I guess.

Hodor: If Bran does not warg Hodor and make him into some kind of mind-controlled superweapon I will consider season 4 a failure.

Meera Reed: Is she cute? I can’t tell. Not really? Hm.

Rickon Stark/Osha: Rickon and Osha are headed to Last Hearth, the seat of House Umber. House Umber have been longtime bannermen to House Stark, and Osha describes them as great warriors. Rickon might get some warrior training, and it would be cool to see the youngest Stark become a flag around which the remaining forces of the North—like House Umber—can rally.

Of course, this is assuming that House Umber wasn’t decimated like the rest of the Robb-loyal Northmen in the Red Wedding.

Whether or not Rickon’s presence at House Umber will amount to anything is a wild card. I doubt it will, but, like anything on GoT, you never know.

IT’S IRONIC THE LANNISTERS ARE LIONS BECAUSE TYWIN IS SUCH A BIG DOG

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Tywin Lannister: Well, he done it again. After promising to back Walder Frey’s vendetta against the Starks, Tywin merely had to sit back and let the Freys and Boltons do his dirty work for him. This move, as Tyrion points out, also leaves Tywin virtually blameless. Good game good effort Robb Stark. Match set point Lannisters.

Tywin has quickly taken control of King’s Landing, and has brought all four corners of the realm under Lannister control. His puppet Roose Bolton is Warden of the North. The Tyrells, who Cersei is set to marry, are Wardens of the South. The Arryns, who are Wardens of the East, will be brought to heel after Littlefinger marries into them. The Lannisters themselves are Wardens of the West. In short, Tywin has Boardwalk and Park Place. And hotels on both.

Now, the Night’s Watch calls for aid against an approaching undead army. Tywin is a practical man almost to a fault, but I think he will still recognize that the crown should respond to what he must view as an unreal threat to maintain it’s image. Or he’ll make Roose Bolton do it. Either or. Point being, the coming White Walkers provide another distraction from the curiosity on the far side of the world that is Daenerys Targaryen. I don’t expect Tywin to jump at the prospect of Dany and her (in his mind, probably not real) dragons sieging Westeros.

Cersei Lannister: Cersei is betrothed to the homosexual Loras Tyrell, a prospect that does not excite her. She is adamant that she will not marry, a conviction no doubt strengthened by the return of her brother and incestuous lover Jaime. However, Jaime is not the man he used to be, and it remains to be seen if that attraction still exists. Cersei has never been a really major player in the drama at King’s Landing, but, when pushed, we have seen her become capable of wild things.

Tyrion Lannister/Sansa Stark/Shae/Podrick Payne/Bronn: Tyrion is now officially wed to Sansa, putting the key to the north in Lannister hands. They seem to be getting along well, despite the awkward third wheeling of Shae. Tyrion has also reached his limits with Joffrey, leading him to becoming increasingly bold in his retaliations to his nephew’s constant torment of himself and his new wife.

Tyrion is also now Master of Coin, and there is still the issue of the crown being in massive debt, especially to the Iron Bank of Braavos. I still think there is going to be some connection between the Braavos and Yunkai, and therefore between Braavos and Dany. I can’t shake the feeling that Braavos is going to aid Dany in some way so that she can get back the money the crown owes the Iron Bank. Tyrion’s role as Master of Coin goes largely under the radar for the majority of the season, but I’ll bet it comes back in force later.

Poor Sansa. Her family and home are in ruins and she is expected to lose her virginity to a dwarfed Lannister to boot. Sansa seems almost entirely incapable of getting anything done, so I would surprised if she becomes a player in the game. She’s just kind of there.

Like Podrick Payne, who has a big dick. Uh. Ok?

There was also some foreshadowing by Varys about Shae’s role in this whole mess, as he attempted to bribe her to leave King’s Landing. My guess is that somehow she’ll fall victim to the sadistic Joffrey, who loves to torture women. He would get double pleasure from tormenting Shae too, as it would not only fulfill his weird sexual desires (remember Ros?) but also hurt Sansa and Tyrion, two of his favorite targets. And, with Tyrion becoming more outspoken and violent to the little king, Shae being tortured or, dare I say, being killed by Joffrey would ignite a long-burning fuse in King’s Landing.

Also Bronn’s still around. Probably the biggest bro in Westeros.

Jaime Lannister/Brienne of Tarth/Qyburn: This ragtag group finally arrived in King’s Landing. Jaime reunited with Cersei, only to be met with a look of borderline disgust. Previously in King’s Landing, Jaime was a prominent member of the Kingsguard, but his future with them will probably be in jeopardy since he is not really capable of combat anymore. Jaime was my favorite character in season 3 (well, tied with Arya Stark), and I’m very excited to watch him attempt to re-assimilate back into royal court.

He also returned with two new friends. Qyburn, the disgraced Maester, healed his hand and arm and wants to be reinstated into the Maester order. Potentially a replacement for Grand Maester Pycelle?

Brienne is also in King’s Landing with Jaime. His new best friend and companion might take his place in the Kingsguard. Or, she might hear of the Red Wedding and swear revenge on every member of the Lannister family for murdering her lady Catelyn Stark.

Wow, that’d be intense.

Joffrey Baratheon: This little shit has gone off the deep end. Every victory his grandfather wins for him inflates his ego, and with every enemy of his that loses their head Joffrey’s grows proportionally bigger. I think the real tipping point was Joffrey’s murder of the prostitute Ros, who was in Varys’ employ (Littlefinger, who made the majority of his money in the prostitute trade, supplied Ros to Joffrey after learning that she was feeding him information from inside one of Littlefinger’s brothels). After that, Joffrey has gotten increasingly ridiculous: he threatens to straight out rape Sansa at her wedding, and later asks for Robb’s head so that he can feed it to Sansa at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding. Like seriously? Jesus. Joffrey is another usurper named by Stannis Baratheon to be killed by the Lord of Light, which again will be talked about in more detail in the STANNIS THE MANNIS section. He has to die soon. There’s just no way he can go around being this much of a prick and live. No way. I still want the deed to be done by Arya Stark, but I wouldn’t mind Tyrion putting teaching his nephew one final lesson.

STANNIS THE MANNIS

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Stannis Baratheon/Melisandre/Davos Seaworth: These three. If you want to hear me wax poetic about Stannis, Melisandre, and good old Davos, read the episode 9 and 10 recap. Shameless plug, check. So Stannis and his gang are marching north to the aid of the Night’s Watch, a move that Melisandre says is absolutely vital to the war effort against the White Walkers. Obviously fire is going to play some part in this—maybe Dany’s dragons will also be seen as instruments in the Lord of Light’s plan (using the aforementioned theory that Dany’s dragons are going to be utilized in the battle against the army of the dead). Melisandre and Davos are going to continue doing their shoulder-angel-shoulder-devil thing, so on and so forth.

Ok, I’ll stop teasing you. Let’s get to the religion bit.

So here’s my thing: the Lord of Light isn’t the one true god.

I know, I know. There’s a lot of evidence that the Lord of Light is the one true god. Let me argue against it:

Really the only two times the Lord of Light has manifested himself are the death of Robb Stark (a pretty strong argument that Stannis and Melisandre’s blood ritual with Gendry worked) and the summoning of Melisandre’s demon-baby that killed Renly Baratheon in season 2. So let’s break those down.

Ok, so the Red Wedding. A lot of people see that as the Lord of Light going to work and annihilating Robb Stark. I’m going to take a wait and see approach. I’ll chalk the death of Robb up to the fact that he was rebelling against not only the king of the Seven Kingdoms but also the most powerful house in Westeros, headed by the most powerful man in the country in Tywin Lannister. Me, being the skeptic, might even be stubborn about it and chalk about the inevitable deaths of Joffrey and Balon Greyjoy (lets face it, Roose Bolton is going to give Balon the business, if someone else doesn’t beat him to it. Maybe Rickon and House Umber?).

But what about the demon baby/ghost queef thing from season 2? I don’t buy it. Doesn’t seem like a really Lord of Light thing to do. Actually, it seems more like the re-emerging earth magic that people like Bran and Pyat Pree are practicing. But what would that mean? It would mean that Melisandre is making the whole thing up. And that she practices some other kind of religious magic outside of the Lord of Light’s domain—which might explain why someone like Thoros of Myr, a heavily disgraced priest, can resurrect people and Melisandre can. Interesting discussion. I’m agnostic towards the Lord of Light right now—I’d like to see some more from him via Melisandre before I can really get behind Stannis being the ultimate champion of light.

THE WILDLING INVASION

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Jon Snow/Sam Tarly/The Night’s Watch: It’s nice to see Jon and Sam reunited again. They were such good friends. It’s just too bad it had to be in such bad conditions. Here’s the situation for the Night’s Watch: the army of the undead is knocking at their front door; the Wildlings are breathing down their backs; their Lord Commander is dead; a bunch of soldiers rebelled against the Watch at Craster’s Keep, leaving their numbers who knows how depleted; and their best fighter, Jon Snow, is severely wounded.

I would love to see Samwell Tarly complete his maturation by stepping up to the plate as a leader in these dark times. He made his first kill—a White Walker no less—and now has a lady and child to fight for in Gilly and Sam Jr. I do fear for the Watch, though—hopefully Stannis and whoever else responds to the call for aid arrive in time, and with the same epic flair Gandalf arrives at Helm’s Deep with (c’mon, it crossed your mind).

Tormund Giantsbane/Mance Rayder/the Wildlings: The defection of Jon Snow was a setback, as his insider knowledge of the Night’s Watch fortifications would’ve been immensely helpful in their campaign, but the Wildlings push forth nonetheless. It is unclear how many are beyond the wall at this point—Mance Rayder had a crazy big army under his command, but it seems implausible that the entirety of it can scale the Wall in the same fashion as Tormund and his gang did. I think the plan was for Tormund to open the gate and let the rest of them in. They will march forwards until they achieve their goals, that much is certain.

But how to deal with the Jon Snow problem? Jon Snow betrayed them, and I highly doubt that that is a forgivable offense in Wildling eyes. Unless your…

Ygritte: Oh, my Ygritte. I’m simultaneously happy you’re single but sad that you’re heart’s broken. I’m very interested into how she and Jon are going to play out. I think she’s going to go back to him, to be honest. I know she shot a bunch of arrows at him, but that wasn’t politically driven. She made it abundantly clear to Jon that any political or social divisions between them mean nothing to her, just as long as he doesn’t betray her. Which he did. But I would like to believe that when push comes to shove, love will win out. Maybe, if Jon Snow can somehow rally the Wildlings and Night’s Watch against a common foe, their union will finally be permitted. A political marriage between Southerners and Wildlings? Hm.

EVERYONE ELSE

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Arya Stark/Sandor “The Hound” Clegane: Well, Arya finally murdered the shit out of someone. And all signs point to her going and joining the Red God or the Faceless Men or whatever crazy awesome thing Jaqen H’ghar was. What else does she have to lose? Her sister is basically in captivity. Her older brother is dead. Her mother is dead. Her father is dead. Her two littler brothers are presumed dead. Her home is in ruins. All that she has left is a list of those she wants dead. Whether her new buddy Sandor has done enough to take himself off it remains to be seen, but I really don’t think he’ll be accompanying her on this voyage. Regardless of whatever gods rule Westeros, Arya will forever worship death. And offer to him a list of sacrifices.

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish: We haven’t seen a lot of Littlefinger since he took center stage in the middle of the season. He is going to marry into House Arryn, a powerful and important family that Tywin wanted under the crown’s influence (if you remember, patriarch Jon Arryn was the Hand who was poisoned to death in season 1 after discovering Gendry was Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. Ned Stark was his replacement). Littlefinger now has the Vale and Harrenhal, and a crisis in the North that I’m sure he will exploit to his advantage. Littlefinger made huge strides to being a major player in the Game this season, a trend that I’m sure will continue next season. I also would not be surprised if Littlefinger had an integral part in whoever decides to overthrown the Lannisters next…which may or may not be Dany.

Margaery Tyrell/Loras Tyrell/Olenna Tyrell: There can only be one queen, and Margaery and the rest of the Tyrell clan have made it very clear that they want it to be her. However, Tywin did just make a pretty strong statement for people who try to go against him. Cersei also doesn’t particularly like Margaery either. But Sansa does, and therefore Tyrion will be involved somehow. I’m going to guess that Margaery’s power plays in the capital aren’t going to be a huge part of season 4, but hey. We’ll see.

Thoros of Myr/Beric Dondarrion/Anguy the Archer: Who cares. Thanks for reading.

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Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere” and Episode 10: “Mhysa” Recaps

By Devin Kirby

DTA

Quick disclaimer about these recaps: they’re not going to be as in-depth as the other ones. Why? Because there’s going to be a follow-up article next week called “What’s Going on in Game of Thrones?” that’s going to break down what happened this season and what’s coming up for each and every character in the show.

But before we get to that, let’s make sure everyone’s on the same page as to what exactly went down in the last two episodes of one of the best single seasons of television I’ve ever seen.

TEAM HODOR & JON SNOW & SAM 

Quick disclaimer about these recaps: they’re not going to be as in-depth as the other ones. Why? Because there’s going to be a follow-up article next week called “What’s Going on in Game of Thrones?” that’s going to break down what happened this season and what’s coming up for each and every character in the show.

But before we get to that, let’s make sure everyone’s on the same page as to what exactly went down in the last two episodes of one of the best single seasons of television I’ve ever seen.

Team Hodor is getting into all kinds of crazy shit. After camping in a mill, Team Hodor witnesses the Wildling party catch up with the horse breeder whose house they raided earlier. As yet another loyalty test (like really?) for Jon Snow, Orell commands that he kill the horse breeder. Jon refuses (sigh) and all hell breaks loose. After a lot of prompting by Jojen Reed, Bran finally stops being a pussy and uses his warg powers to control his and Rickon’s direwolves and save Jon, who kills Orell and escapes back to Castle Black.

After the skirmish, Bran realizes how unsafe this adventure is going to be (just now?) and sends Osha to bring Rickon to Last Hearth, the seat of the Stark bannermen House Umber (remember, nobody in Team Hodor has any idea about the Red Wedding or, frankly, anything that’s going on with anybody).

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The remnants of Team Hodor make camp at the Nightfort, where they come across Samwell Tarly and Gilly. Sam gives them his dragonglass arsenal and they depart to find Bran’s mythical raven/spirit animal/Patronus charm thing. This is by far the weakest storyline in these two episodes. Whenever Team Hodor gets on screen, I really only look forward to Hodor’s Hodor of the Week. Everything else is so humorless and mundane that it just seems like an obligatory look at where Team Hodor is—which is pretty boring considering the other stuff going on in Westeros. Hopefully the epic music and cool walkaway scene that ended Team Hodor’s storyline for this season is a precursor for Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor to do something awesome next year.

Or do, ya know, anything…

Later, Ygritte catches up with Jon Snow and they have a standoff that ends with Ygritte weeping and shooting Jon Snow in the back with a couple arrows. I thought this scene was done very well—probably the first piece of acting Kit Harington has done this entire show—and managed to be raw and emotional without being overly cheesy or sappy. Jon later makes his way back to Castle Black, where Sam has just dispatched ravens to every lord in Westeros asking for their assistance against the imminent White Walker threat.

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AT DRAGONSTONE

It’s good to see Davos back. Quickly turning into one of the noblest characters in Westeros, Davos has taken center stage in the supernatural drama unfolding at Dragonstone. And make no mistake about Dragonstone’s importance—despite not being a featured set in episode 9, Stannis and his Red Priestess had a big stake in the Red Wedding. After the blood magic ritual Melisandre performed using leeches filled with Gendry’s boner-blood, Robb Stark, one of the three usurpers named to die by Stannis, winds up dead. This, of course, is the green light to sacrifice Gendry to the Lord of Light—a move that Good Guy Davos strongly opposes. I love the dynamics between Davos, Stannis, and Melisandre when they’re all on screen together. They are three very engaging and diverse characters that make perfect sense together: a man of reason, a woman of faith, and a king torn between the two. There is one shot in episode 10 that I absolutely loved: after hearing both sides of the Gendry argument, Stannis turns his back on his two advisors, and there’s a straightaway shot of Stannis flanked by Davos and Melisandre in a kind of shoulder-angel-shoulder-devil composition, with Davos looking very meek and monk-y and red-dressed Melisandre looking like the perfect seductive devil. In general, episode 10 was remarkably beautiful, but that one shot just floored me.

Later, Davos decides to take manners into his own hands, and frees Gendry. This show loves having stubbornly noble characters that end up dead—the entire Stark family being a prime example. Davos, too, seems to be on the quick path to a fiery execution, before he reveals the message he received from the Night’s Watch calling for the lords of Westeros to mobilize against the coming White Walkers. Melisandre even vouches for Davos, and Stannis allows him to live.

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These three have had increasingly great scenes as the season has gone on, and at this point I would put them as the most entertaining group to watch, maybe second to the Lannisters at King’s Landing. If what Melisandre says is correct, and Stannis is the only man who can save the North, I’m totally fine with it. As long as Good Guy Davos gets to stick around.

And, well, Melisandre getting naked again wouldn’t kill anyone. Right?

AT THE TWINS

The Red Wedding. Aka Holy Shit-fest 2013.

Robb Stark arrives at the Twins to formally apologize to Walder Frey (aka Mr. Filch) and his daughters for marrying Talisa. Frey accepts, after a hilariously inappropriate speech about Talisa’s “firm tits and tight fit” to publically humiliate Robb (it’s too bad we have to hate Walder Frey, because the dude is funny as hell).

Outside of the Twins, Arya and Sandor “the Hound” Clegane encounter a farmer whose cart they steal. The Hound wants to kill him and Arya intervenes. Despite how dark Arya’s character has gotten, it’s sweet to see she still has some basic morals. However, as the Hound is quick to point out, morality is a luxury quickly becoming more costly to possess in Westeros, as Arya’s family has learned time and time again. I didn’t care for this scene, but I understand why it was there. Kind of.

And then there’s the Red Wedding. Holy shit. After a pleasant ceremony (including the welcome surprise that Edmure was to be wed to a relatively attractive Frey girl), the Freys and Boltons massacre the Stark army by surprise, starting with Talisa and her unborn child being repeatedly stabbed and ending in a complete orgy of blood and death as Robb, Catelyn, and their compatriots are systematically cut down.

First off, complete and utter hats off to Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark, whose final desperate plea to Walder Frey and her subsequent murder of his young wife and eventual death by horrifyingly graphic throat-cutting drove the entire scene home, as episode 9 ended in cruel silence. Fairley broke out this season as one of the show’s most emotionally intense actors, as she flawlessly chronicled Catelyn’s downward spiral from tortured mother to prisoner to beloved aide and back again. The entire emotional impact of the Red Wedding sequence was, in my opinion, almost singlehandedly due to her final few shots. One of the most vividly brutal and hard-hitting scenes of television ever made. A fantastically well-done twist that by itself made episode 9 the best of the season.

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Arya and the Hound escape the chaos, only to see Robb’s decapitated body paraded around with his direwolf’s head sewn onto its neck.

Which finally unleashes Arya the Killer.

Outside, Arya and the Hound encounter a group of Frey men mocking the deaths of Catelyn and Robb. Hearing this, Arya, at her most disturbingly psychotic, steals the Hound’s knife and brutally murders a man who took credit for attaching the direwolf’s head to Robb’s dead body. The Hound kills the others.

Arya then whispers the phrase valar morgulis to the coin Jaqen H’ghar gave her last season, suggesting that she plans to take up his offer to be trained as an assassin. I can barely contain my excitement. It’s time Arya starts cooking with fire.

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I can only hope she takes the Hound along for the ride. Just be friends, already.

Back at the Twins, with pools of blood still lying around his chambers, Walder Frey discusses the victory with Roose Bolton, who is now Warden of the North. Walder Frey also declares himself Lord of Riverrun, despite Bolton’s reminder that Bryndyn “Blackfish” Tully escaped when he stepped outside to piss. It is also revealed that Robb, when he was alive and heard about the sacking of Winterfell by Theon Greyjoy and his band of Ironborn, offered the Ironborn amnesty for this attack (which Theon did on his own accord, against his father Balon’s orders to only attack small coastal cities) if they brought him Theon. Bolton sent his bastard son Ramsay Snow (which apparently is the surname all bastards from the North have) to deliver the terms, and has had Theon in custody ever since.

Although he’s a complete SOB, Roose Bolton is one badass dude. I’ve really enjoyed watching him this season and hope he lives long enough to have some more darkly awesome (“the Lannisters send their regards”) moments.

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THEON

So, yeah, Theon did have his dick cut off. Tough luck. Still getting tortured by the man we now know is Ramsay Snow, Theon is beaten into answering to the name Reek. Jesus. Enough already.

Theon’s father Balon (one of the other usurpers named by Stannis) and his sister Yara (whose name is Asha in the book and I don’t know why they changed it?) receive Theon’s dick (in a box!) and a letter demanding the removal of the Ironborn from the North, or he threatens to continue torturing and dismembering Theon. Balon refuses, and Yara, fed up with her father’s mistreatment of Theon, takes a ship and the best men she can find to siege the Dreadfort (which, speaking of penises, is totally what I’m calling vaginas from now on).

I’m glad next season promises some more Yara Greyjoy. With what little time we spent with her in season 2, she seemed like a bad bitch. And I think Ramsay Snow dying at her hand would be awesome.

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AT KING’S LANDING

Tyrion and Sansa seem to have bonded from their now-mutual stigma as pariahs, and their marriage seems to finally be warming up—or, in political terms, Tyrion seems to be making headway into Sansa’s Dreadfort (yeah, that works). However, Tyrion is soon called into a Small Council meeting with an overly enthused Joffrey where he learns of the Red Wedding. Joffrey, ecstatic over “his” victory (lol jk Tywin did everything as always), steps first to an increasingly hostile Tyrion and eventually to his grandfather Tywin, who, finally fed up with his grandson’s arrogance, sends him to bed—and orders the Grand Maester to basically drug Joffrey into a coma on top of it. Tywin and Tyrion are then left alone, where they discuss the Red Wedding, its aftermath, and the need for Tyrion to make a child. As always, Tyrion and Tywin’s discussion is fantastically gripping, and after, when Tyrion returns to Sansa to give her the news, there’s a beautifully brief shot of Sansa just being emotionally devastated. One of the few times your heart really goes out to the perpetually-depressed young Stark.

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Good Guy Varys continues being a good guy by trying to bribe Shae into leaving King’s Landing. She refuses. I am afraid for what this will mean for Tyrion. But a good scene for both of these characters.

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Also, Jaime, Brienne, and Qyburn—the unorthodox ex-Maester who took care of Jaime’s hand in Bolton’s camp—finally arrive at King’s Landing. Jaime reunites with Cersei in a perfectly delicate and subtle scene that did a great job in not overstating itself, much like the Ygritte-Jon Snow scene.

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ACROSS THE NARROW SEA

Daario Naharis takes Grey Worm and Jorah Mormont into a back door to Yunkai, where they fight a bunch of slave soldiers in a video-game-style bloodbath in which we see exactly how ridiculously awesome Grey Worm and Daario Naharis are. Jorah Mormont was ok too, I guess, although this was a perfect opportunity for the overhyped Barristan Selmy to see some much-needed action. I would have rather Jorah sit this one out.

They end up taking Yunkai, and Daenerys is championed by a hoard of now-free Yunkai slaves as Mhysa, or mother.

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These two episodes are basically just one giant super-episode, and both of them are beautifully composed and well acted. A glorious ending and simultaneously a hopeful look ahead to what is quickly becoming television’s premiere experience.

Rating: 5 Dreadforts out of 5

Line of the Week: “You really think the crown gives you power” –Tywin Lannister

A special thanks to anyone who read any or all of these. It was a lot of fun and I appreciate the support. Stay tuned next week for a continued recap/preview of season 4 with “What’s Going On In Game of Thrones?” right here on Bucking Aikman.

Categories: Game of Thrones | 1 Comment

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8: “Second Sons” Recap

By Devin Kirby

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Ah yes, primogeniture. That old chestnut. The first born son gets everything and all the other siblings get nothing. A fantastically flawed medieval system for a fantastically flawed fantasy medieval world. Imagine, for a second, the strain that must be on the second sons. All of the expected duty to your family, and none of the benefits. Rough deal. It’s understandable, then, that a lot of these second sons wouldn’t really want to get the short end of the proverbial stick and be grateful for it. This is the driving theme of episode 8, a tight and beautiful episode that brings back some of the badassery that made episodes 6 and 7 relatively dry. Episode 8 still bides its time waiting for something bigger (which will probably happen next episode—episode 9 is always the big one in GoT), but at least makes itself look good while doing so. With that, here’s “Second Sons.” Continue reading

Categories: Game of Thrones | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

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