“A Man Without Honor” felt a little bit like a filler episode leading up to something bigger, but that’s fine with me because there were a lot of great character moments … and some less than great ones, but let’s break it down:
Sansa awakens from an unpleasant nightmare to an even more terrifying reality. Her bed sheets are covered in blood and she has officially become a woman. Why isn’t she happy and excited like other giggling young girls? Because it means little Joffrey babies in her future. She tries to hack her mattress to bits. Shae tries to help her hide the evidence more effectively. Shae even chases down another handmaiden who walks in on them and threatens to gut her if she blabs to the Queen. But all their efforts are in vain when the Hound shows up and views the whole bloody scene.
Queen Cersei has a heart to heart with her terrified little successor, bluntly warning her that Joffrey will never show her any true devotion. But it needn’t be a bleak, loveless existence: “You may never love the king, but you will love his children.”
But Sansa isn’t going to be pushed into motherhood just yet. The king has bigger things to worry about. Stannis Baratheon’s fleet of 200 ships is sailing towards King’s Landing and they’re only about 5 days out.
Robb continues his flirtation with Talisa, inviting her to ride with him to the Crag stronghold to negotiate surrender. She can replenish her dwindling medical supplies and he will have the opportunity to sweet talk her away from the disapproving eyes of his mother.
Robb also receives word from his returning messenger Sir Alton (a distant Lannister cousin) that Queen Cersei ripped up his peace terms. He places him in the Kingslayer’s cage until a new one can be built to house him. Alton happens to be a BIG fan of Jaime Lannister. He once squired for him in battle – still the best day of his life. Jaime listens patiently as his cousin moons over him, then draws him closer with tales of his own youth. He begins to whisper about an escape plan he’s concocting … and then bashes in Alton’s face with his shackles. The commotion draws a guard into the cage and Jaime is able to wrap his chains around the guard’s neck, choke him to death, and free himself.
But he doesn’t get very far. He’s dragged back to the Stark camp the next morning, with everybody screaming for his head. Lord Karstark, the father of the guard Jaime choked, is roaring louder than everyone else. He has his hand on his sword, ready to make a fatal swing. But Catelyn Stark intervenes, demanding he stand down in the name of the King in the North. Jaime is still worth more dead that alive. Karstark is still fuming and he is not happy about being ordered around by someone’s mommy.
Later, Catelyn brings Brienne along for a private conversation with Jaime. She’s worried that he won’t last the night with the all the rowdy, angry, drunken soldiers just outside his cage. But he seems determined to egg her on, starting in on her about Ned’s infidelity and her shame at having to raise Jon Snow. He keeps at it until Catelyn demands her sword from Brienne and draws it on him.
Lord Tywin is trying to figure out who shot Ser Amory Lorch with a poisoned dart. He views it as a failed assassination attempt on his own life and he wants someone to pay! Gregor Clegane believes it to be an infiltrator from a group of outlaws called The Brotherhood, but no one has had any luck in locating them. They operate in secret, with support from the peasants. Tywin sends Gregor Clegane out to teach the insolent peasants a lesson. “Burn the villages, burn the farms. Let them know what it means to choose the wrong side.”
When Theon discovers that the two Stark boys are missing, he’s livid. When one of his men dares to suggest it’s Theon’s own fault for letting Osha into his bed, he kicks his face in. What’s really creepy is that Theon has this one nasty crewmember, Dagmar Cleftjaw, who pushes him toward violence. Theon always glances at him for encouragement before releasing his inner Hulk. Dagmar just smirks happily as Theon extracts blood. Is this his messed up way of showing pride? Ewww.
Theon and his men take their horses and hounds (This is so random, but does anyone else remember that moment in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant pretended to be a reporter from Horse and Hound so he could spend some time with Julia Roberts? That was cute.) on a manhunt for Bran and Rickon. Maester Luwin begs Theon to spare the boys’ lives and Theon promises that if he finds them soon he won’t hurt them … much. “Come Maester, don’t look so grim, it’s all just a game.” Ugh. That one line says so much about Theon’s character. This IS all a game to him, one that he’s not happy unless he’s winning.
Bran, Rickon, Hodor and Osha reach a local farm where they once sent Winterfell orphans Jack and Billy. Rickon wants to go ask them for food, but Bran doesn’t want to put them in danger in case Theon shows up and tortures them for information. I like that Bran has embraced the gravity of his role as Lord of Winterfell and he’s putting the safety of his people first.
Theon arrives at the same farm hours later, but the hounds can’t pick up the scent of the boys. They do find Rickon’s walnut shells on the ground. Theon sends the Maester away to prepare for what he must do when he finds Bran and Rickon. When Theon returns to Winterfell he unveils two small burned blackened bodies while Maester Luwin moans in pain.
Beyond the Wall
In the wake of the last few episodes of Game of Thrones I’ve been reading a lot of fan comments from people who think there should be ‘less talking and more stabbing’ on this show. I can understand the sentiment because this season has so far been light on battle and heavy on conversation. But I’m actually a bigger fan of dialogue than I am of gore so I’m all good with the chit chat!
…unless that chit chat is THREE scenes on the subject of someone’s balls. Yes, even if those balls belong to Kit Harrington. I mean REALLY!? Ygritte wakes up in the frozen northland and finds a surprise pressed up against her back: “Did you pull a knife on me in the night?” Jon is mortified and Ygritte quickly realizes that he’s a virgin. She decides to torture him about it – endlessly – for three bloody scenes. Stones, bones, blueballs, clubs. You’ve never done it in the keep? You’ve never done it in with some sheep? You’ve never done it with a man? You must’ve done it with your hands! My God – it’s like the Green Eggs and Ham of sexual grilling! She tries to lure him over to the wildling camp where they’re allowed to get naked with whomever they want. She offers to teach him how to ‘do it’, then she threatens to whip out her va-jay-jay in the middle of the snow-covered wasteland. So … even when we’re not watching people go at it, we have to listen to people swooning about the thrill of going at it? SIGH.
Eventually Ygritte is able to wrench her rope free from Jon’s grip and she takes off again. When Jon chases her down she’s got company. She’s flanked by wildling warriors, with others appearing on the mountaintop to surround Jon.
Dany is grieving the death of her handmaidens and the loss of her dragons. She starts to doubt herself and her destiny. Will people in Westeros really rise up to support her claim to the throne? Who can she really trust in this world? She’s getting a little fed up with all of Sir Jorah’s fawning and warns him not to be so familiar with her.
Xaro calls a meeting of The Thirteen to uncover the dragon thief, but they all maintain their innocence … except Pyat Pree. He freely admits to placing the Dragon’s in the House of the Undying. He procured them with the help of The King of Qarth. Wait … the who? There is no King of Qarth, right? Turns out Xaro hasn’t exactly been upfront with our Khaleesi. He made an alliance with Pyat Pree because he wants to open up Qarth to the rest of the world and bring the city into the future. More ugly bald men appear behind the rest of The Thirteen to slit their throats. I’m a little confused because they all look exactly like Pyat Pree. Can he multiply himself or is he from a race of creepy identical old bald dudes?
Pyat Pree is still blathering about the Mother of Dragons being with her babies and nurturing them forever in the House of the Undying. Dany doesn’t know what brand of crazy he’s buying into, but she ain’t having it! She tries to run. Jorah show sup to stab Pyat through the gut, but that is apparently not fatal to a Warlock. He disappears and reappears a few feet away. The message is basically this: If Dany wants her dragon’s back, she’ll have to journey into the depth of a mad house to find them.
Again, I loved the interactions between Arya and Lord Tywin. He’s such a ruthless, cold-hearted man and yet he asks a serving girl to sit with him and eat his mutton because he’s not fond of it., and he starts talking to her about his own mortality. “This will be my last war, win or lose .. .this is the one I’ll be remembered for.” He tells her the story of Harrenhal’s destruction, when it was blasted by dragon fire and reduced to ruin. Arya corrects him when he talks about Aegon’s conquest, reminding him that Aegon’s two sisters also rode on their dragons and rained down their own fire. “Aren’t most girls more interested in the pretty songs?” “Most girls are idiots.” When Tywin dismisses Arya and sends her back to the kitchen he stops her briefly to remind her that low-born girls are supposed to say m’lord, not my lord, as she has been doing. “If you’re going to pose as a commoner, you should do it properly.” But Arya doesn’t blink or buckle under the pressure of that statement. She throws back, “My mother served Lady Dustin for many years my lord, she taught me how to speak proper… err … properly!”
I love how many dynamics are at play in this one scene. Arya is not only looking at Tywin as her current master, but as an enemy of her family. There is a great moment where she stares at his exposed neck while he’s facing the window and grasps her dinner knife tightly. Class also separates them, even though both of them seem to be aware that it’s a lie. But they’re playing into that lie carefully. Arya amuses Tywin because she’s smart and cheeky, but there is a line he cannot allow her to cross. He warns her to be ‘careful girl’ when she asks him how many stonemasons he’s actually met. And bubbling underneath it all is this giant secret that could blow up at any moment; that Arya is a Stark, a valuable asset hidden right under Tywin’s nose.
There was also a great scene between Tyrion and Cersei where she admitted to him that she’s lost control of her cruel eldest son. She doesn’t come right out and say it, but she is basically talking freely about her incest. “Sometimes I wonder if this is the price for what we’ve done … for our sins.” In his own way, Tyrion is trying to comfort his sister, telling her the Targaryens wed brother to sister for thousands of years. Ah yes, but half of them went crazy didn’t they? Tyrion tells Cersei that she’s beaten the odds – that Tommen and Myrcella are sweet, decent children. Cersei starts to cry and Tyrion inches closer, as if he wants to reach out to her but isn’t sure how to do it. His glance is flitting around the room – anywhere but at his sister – and he stops about a foot in front of her. She looks up at him in pain, but weary of his closeness, and they just stay at that distance. Wow.
The Hound: (to Sansa) “You’ll be glad of the hateful things I do someday, when you’re Queen and I’m all that stands between you and your beloved King.”
Random Guard Dude (to Brienne): “Keep your hands off me woman”
Brienne: “Don’t enter without an invitation, MAN!”
Tyrion: “It’s hard to put a leash on a dog, once you’ve put a crown on its head.”
Photo Courtesy of HBO