Game of Thrones: clean sheets, wooden phalluses, and a special knife
Every bully, every asshole boss, every insufferable jackass should be aware that you can push someone only so far. After a certain amount of humiliation, after forcing someone to eat too much shit, most people will find themselves unwilling to accept the relationship when the cost grows too high, and they will fight back. Sometimes it ends badly for the person lashing out, and sometimes someone pulls a knife or a sword. But there is always a limit, and it’s important to have some sense of where it is.
Joffrey, the little shit, has no idea this limit exists, and he pushed Tyrion right over it. The young king threatened to rape Sansa, he took away the stool so he could laugh while the husband-to-be couldn’t reach the shoulders of his teenage wife, and he generally did everything he could to get under Tyrion’s skin. Until that moment with the knife.
Admit it, you cheered a little bit.
These sheets are clean
Tyrion may have a number of faults, and he’s relatively open about what those faults may be, but one of the things that has always made him a sympathetic character is his understanding of what a raw deal Sansa has been given through her life. He’s aware there’s little he can do to improve her situation, but he at least tries to be kind, and the final drunken scene where he passes out in his chair instead of forcing her to consummate the marriage is what passes for a good deed in Westeros. From his point of view he’s now married to a woman who is repulsed by him, while losing the woman he seemed to genuinely care for. Sansa isn’t the only one dealing with a terrible situation.
Still, that moment of Shae finding the clean sheets, but then changing them anyway, was a small triumph in their relationship.
This wasn’t a great episode of Game of Thrones, although the cynic in me knows that it only takes one or two memorable scenes to save what could be a very boring episode. That bit with Gendry, the leeches and the speech about the blood of kings was interesting, but without much payoff it’s hard to tell how important it will be. Of course, the last time we saw magic from this woman she gave birth to a smoke demon who murdered its target without too much issue.
Three names are spoken: Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, and Joffrey Baratheon. We’ve seen too much magic to take this ritual for granted. Bad things are coming to those three men in some way, shape, or form.
Also, Jesus Christ, Cersei, rein it in a bit. She always strikes me as that asshole at the poker table who thinks its clever to go all in on every hand. She gives her enemies and those around her way too much information, she speaks plainly about her intentions. Both of those things tend to have negative consequences. She might as well have told Margaery to take her out at her earliest possible convenience. I'm not sure Cersei realizes just how few friends she has, or how little Joffrey would care about her death. Hell, the one person who seemed to truly care for her is far away, and missing one hand.
We check back in with Arya, who has the wonderful idea of bashing the Hound’s face in with a rock. He deals with it in a realistic fashion: If he dies, great. If he doesn’t, he breaks Arya’s hands. Arya, sensing the immense thickness of that particular skull, decides against the risk. This is another unlikely pairing that proves fun, even in the brief moments we share with them. You put Arya next to anyone on the show and you get a great scene. I would watch the hell out of Arya and Brienne just walking places, talking about swords and being a woman in a man’s world. Or maybe Tywin teaching her the fine art of wielding power. Game of Thrones has a great time throwing characters together to see what sticks, and Arya tends to bring out interesting things in the people around her.
Oh yeah, and Daenerys gets insulted by a man who thinks he has the situation under control, and we know what that means. Sure enough, the two sellswords are killed by the third, who visits the Mother of Dragons in the bath and is all like “You’re pretty, I’m prettier, we should prolly get together, right?” I’m curious about where this storyline is going; I like Daenerys when she’s pissed off and making big moves, not romantically entangled with a man who looks like Fabio’s little sister.
I will say this: Daenerys’ scene with her translator discussing her ability with languages was unexpectedly sad. Daenerys wasn’t nearly as proficient at speaking Dothraki as she had thought, but Khal Drogo always praised her efforts. Sometimes we tell white lies to the people we love, and this is a subtle reminder that, while Daenerys has gained much, she’s also lost a few things.
Finally, this all brings us back to Sam and Gilly. The face in the tree next to the shelter they find, and the crows who watch them enter, provide at least a bit of foreshadowing before the attack by the White Walker, and Sam finally finds a use for that dagger, killing the monster. It’s a beautiful, thrilling scene, and it ends the episode in fine style. This is what people will be talking about until next week, and it’s made even more harrowing due to the baby’s life that hangs in the balance. We also know what that dagger is for: It kills White Walkers.
Also, hey, remember the White Walkers? Winter is coming! We’ve been spending so much time with the characters and their political moves that it’s easy to forget that there’s a supernatural threat from beyond the wall. We can count on a faster-paced episode next week if the show’s rhythm continues, but after the brilliant hour from last week this seemed a touch limp, save for one or two great character beats. If I had to pick one moment that stuck out, it’s Joffrey and Tyrion locking eyes over that dagger.
Some men begin to plan when they’ve been pushed too far, and Joffrey already has a curse on his name thanks to Gendry’s blood. Death is coming for one, or both of the men on either side of that knife.