The Game of Thrones: The episode wherein we discuss sodomy, and magic
A quick warning: This review assumes you've watched the entirety of Sunday's episode, and the two seasons leading up to it.
Game of Thrones takes place in a world that is rendered so realistically and in such brutal detail it can be jarring when supernatural elements are introduced. It’s odd that we can take dragons for granted, but children who share dreams test our suspension of disbelief. It’s easy to forget that we watched a woman give birth to a murderous smoke demon just last season. The characters tend to treat these magical aspects of their reality with respect, but little surprise.
Well, mostly. Jon Snow has the concept of a “warg,” someone who can see through the eyes of animals, explained to him, and Ygritte gets to basically call him a dumbass once again. Sometimes I fantasize about an edit of these scenes where she’s replaced by Napolean Dynamite continuously calling Snow a “stupid idiot.”
This is the sort of episode that would prove tiresome in any other show. Very little happens in terms of plot movement, and a dual between a shackled man and his captor is the closest thing we get to action, but Game of Thrones delights in throwing different combinations of characters together just to see how they interact. I could watch Jaime Lannister and Brienne walking places together for hours if the conversation remains this lively.
Men who love men, and the people who talk about them
Everyone also seemed pretty happy to discuss Renly’s love of other men. “His proclivities were the worst-kept secret at court,” Jaimie said, “It’s a shame the iron throne wasn’t made of cocks, they’d have never got him off it.”
Margaery was more… circumspect when the issue came up. “One evening, after he’d had far too much wine to drink, he suggested something that sounded very painful and couldn’t possible result in children,” she confessed to Joffrey, who stated he’d considered making that “perversion” punishable by death. What follows is what can only be described as seduction via crossbow, and it’s as weird as it sounds. Joffrey isn’t so hard to handle, it seems. Keep flowers off his clothing and make sure you remind him of his power.
Speaking of that crossbow, yes it’s clever, but the fact remains that mechanism is likely the only thing that allows him to use it. Does anyone think he could load a standard crossbow? “There’s no crank!” he says when explaining it. Do you think the weapon master made jokes about him while it was being made? Still, Margaery reminds Joffrey that he can kill on command, and that probably does more to get the little asshole stiff than her plunging neckline.
The second most fascinating scene takes place between Sansa, Margaery, and Margaery’s grandmother Olenna. They sit Sansa down and basically browbeat her into admitting the reality of Joffrey’s sadism, but what will they do with this information?
It doesn’t scare either woman off, although Olenna’s most pressing concern seems to be getting her cheese, and plying Sansa with her favorite treats.
Olenna and Margaery can always use this information as a way to blackmail Sansa. I don’t think that’s where this plot line will lead however, as it seems more likely they will just use the knowledge to learn how to manipulate the situation to fit their own ends. This is a conversation between three incredibly powerful women, with the odd detail that only two of them really understand that power.
Theon was tortured, and then it seemed like there was some hope for his escape, but those scenes were simply hard to watch, and did much to kill the momentum of the episode.
We finally get to check in with Arya and her merry band of fighting children, and they fall in with another wandering group of men with unclear motives. These men are too playful to come across as a threat, although it was fun to watch Arya try her hand at the sword only to have it slapped out of her hand. No one is taking her seriously, yet again, which usually ends up being a mistake.
Still, who was expecting the (triumphant?) return of the Hound in this scene? “What in seven hells are you doing with a Stark bitch?” he asks, genuinely confused. This situation just became much more interesting.
Game of Thrones may be a big hit for HBO, but the show still doesn’t have the budget to stage a large battle or splashy sequence every episode, so we’re going to have entire episodes of characters walking and talking to help defray the cost of the dragons flying around. Still, with writing this sharp and characters this fun to be around, who cares?
We’re still seeing everyone take position, and we’re learning more about what people are capable of, and that’s only going to make the pay off even more satisfying. These people can walk places, complain about a lack of cheese, and talk to each for a very long time before I’m going to get bored.
Standard disclaimer: I have yet to read the books, so please keep those spoilers out of the comments. I'm not going to police the comments though, so read at your own risk.