This ‘previously on Game of Thrones’ for “The Old Gods and The New” is epically long. I think we may actually hit ALL the locations in the intro during this episode. Bear with me!
The royal family gathers at the docks to bid adieu to the weeping little princess Myrcella who is sailing off to Dorne. Cersei remains composed, but rage simmers beneath the surface. As she waves goodbye to her only daughter, she tells Tyrion, “I want you to know what it’s like to love someone, to truly loves someone … before I take her from you.” Tyrion turns toward his sister and sizes her up with a look that I couldn’t quite read, but it chilled me to the bone. Was he angry with her? Did he feel sorry for her? Scared for his fate? Is he plotting her demise? Dammit Tyrion, stop being so deep!
As the Lannisters file back to the castle, the peasants begin to taunt King Joffrey. Then someone throws a cow-pie straight at his face. Yup – our favourite masochist was smeared with feces, poop, dung, doodie, kaka! Now, I’m no fan of an ass kabob whooping, but I’d like to think I could take it in stride. The country is at war, soldiers are dying, people are starving in the streets. What’s a little fudge brownie in the face compared to all that? But I’m not an entitled, selfish, psychotic, he-devil. How do you think Joffrey took it? Not. Well. He starts yelling, “Kill them all!” All of them? Like the whole city? Then who would be left for you to torture tomorrow?
Not surprisingly, the people aren’t exactly keen on being killed and they start to riot. The violence escalates quickly; starving citizens are pouncing on anyone who looks like they bathed recently, guards are hacking people to bits, women are screaming and running.
In all the chaos, Sansa loses her escort and finds herself at the mercy of a gaggle of perverts. She’s about to be brutally ravaged, when The Hound appears and dispenses of her attackers in a spectacular fashion. “You’re alright now little bird.” That was actually kinda sweet!
Behind the safety of the castle walls, Joffrey starts ranting about shocking disloyalty of his subjects. ?!?!? Tyrion is PISSED! “We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!” Joffrey ignores the wisdom of the insult and instead starts spazzing about his uncle daring to speak to him in such a fashion. Tyrion wallops Joffrey across the face, even harder than he did back in the series premiere. “And now I’ve struck a king, did my hand fall from my wrist.” Nerds everywhere suffer vocal chord injuries cheering him on!
Tywin throws a tizzy when one of his incompetent foot soldiers, Ser Amory Lorch, accidentally delivers a strategic message to the wrong person … someone who is sworn to the service of House Stark. GULP! Ser Amory is embarrassed to admit that he can’t read and he’s further shamed when Arya shows off her own literary prowess by fetching Tywin a correct book.
Littlefinger pays Twin a visit and proposes an alliance with the Tyrells. The Lannisters need more men, Loras wants revenge on Stannis, and the Tyrells are one of the wealthiest, most influential families in Westeros. Oh yeah, and Margaery really, REALLY wants to be Queen of everything. Having spent some time with Littlefinger in her own identity, Arya comes slightly unraveled in his presence; knocking things around, spilling wine and comically trying to hide her face. Personally I found it hard to believe that he wouldn’t recognize her right away. Her haircut is as much of a ‘disguise’ as Clark Kent’s glasses.
While cleaning tables, Arya pockets a message relating to Robb. She runs off with it, but is intercepted by Ser Amory before she can make her move. Still reeling from his earlier humiliation, he tries to drag Arya back to Tywin to explain herself. She manages to break away and runs straight to Jaqen H’ghar to demand her second death. She needs Ser Amory to drop dead … like NOW! Jaqen tells her it’s not that simple and can’t be done on command, but apparently it can. Ser Armory strides purposefully into Tywin’s chambers and keels right over – with a dart in his neck. Huh.
Little Lord Bran is awoken by a commotion and groggily stares into the face of his foster brother Theon Greyjoy. His confusion soon turns to horror when Theon informs him that he’s taken Winterfell and Bran is to yield the castle to him. I love how exasperated Theon gets when Bran declares he’ll fight him off instead! He sighs like, ‘Oh this dumb child doesn’t understand his role in this situation.’ So he comes over to sit on Bran’s bed and explains to him that he’s supposed to yield if he wants to keep his people alive, “That’s what a good Lord would do.” Brain reluctantly agrees but he says the most heartbreakingly perfect thing to Theon: “Did you hate us the whole time?” Damn that’s a good line!
Everyone is corralled into the courtyard and Brain declares that Prince Theon is now in charge of Winterfell. People are disgusted and repulsed by their former ward and his treacherous behaviour. Particularly Ser Roderick who spits right in Theon’s face. It’s a defining moment for ‘Prince’ Theon. He can brush it of and look weak in front of his men or elevate the conflict to a level he’s not quite comfortable with. With his crew staring him down, Theon chooses to execute Roderick for his insolence. It’s AWFUL. Brain is wailing in horror, Theon is hacking at Roderick’s neck like he’s trying to fell a tree, blood is spurting everywhere … one big huge UGH.
Osha volunteers to join Theon’s fight if he puts a spear back in her hand, but he laughs her off. Later she tries a new tactic and shows up naked. Now she’s speaking his language. Women don’t carry spears, they service spears! Boo-ya! She beds the new Lord of Winterfell and sneaks off into the night while he’s passed out. She takes out one of Theon’s guards and leads Bran, Hodor and Rickon and out into the forest.
Theon is so weak-minded and pathetic. He’s constantly searching for validation in every corner of his life, but he never gets any because he has no convictions. He wanted his father to validate him as an heir, but he was treated like a pansy foreigner. He wanted his men to validate him as their leader, but they mocked him. Now he wants the people of Winterfell to not only obey him but to treat him like any other conquering hero. But they’ll never afford him the respect or begrudging admiration they would give to someone who won a battle. To them, he’s a snivelling traitor they once sheltered; who turned on his own people and now expects them to bow down to him. It’s a vicious cycle because the more Theon is rejected, the more frantic and maniacal he becomes.
What’s really awful is that Robb Stark was the one person who saw Theon’s worth, valued his friendship and respected his opinions. But Theon’s own insecurities made him sabotage that relationship. And sabotage it he has, in quite a spectacular fashion!
When Robb receives word of Theon’s betrayal, he wants to tear back to Winterfell to kill him, but the King cannot leave the battlefield in the middle of a war and he puts one of his men in charge of taking back his home.
Oh, and the flirtation that Robb has going with this Talisa chick? I’m not cool with it. I try not to get into book spoilers in these recaps, but cover your eyes if you must because here comes a minor SPOILER ALERT: Robb romances a completely different girl in the books and their relationship brings about PLENTY of drama and conflict. Why switch the character up and replace her with this broad? She seems uppity and too feisty and I’ve decided to hate her
Beyond the Wall
Qhorin Halfhand’s Band of Brothers reaches a wilding watch party and attacks them while they sleep the day away (apparently they do their prowling at night). The remaining survivor makes a run for it but Jon Snow grabs him … err … her. When Jon pulls back the wildling’s hood he realizes he is dealing with a feisty redheaded girl. She’s ornery and defiant, refusing to answer Qhorin’s questions about Mance Rayder’s army. The wildling girl, Ygritte, is Jon’s capture and Qhorin and the rest of the watchmen leave him to ‘take care of her’. Jon steels himself to chop off her head, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Awww, my sensitive sweetie! Jon hesitates, Ygritte runs off and he’s forced to chase her down.
By the time he’s recaptured her, darkness is falling and he’s lost the rest of his party. He’s forced to tie her up and hunker down with her to keep warm during the night.
Dany is still refusing Xaro’s offer of marriage, opting instead to bargain with the ‘Thirteen’ for their ships. She makes impassioned speeches about her birthright and her destiny, but they remain unmoved. She may be the Mother of Dragons, but she’s still a penniless little girl in their eyes. They are shrewd businessmen who “deal in logic, not passion”. They don’t believe she will be take back the Iron Throne and repay them.
I love Dany, but this is the first time she’s ever looked childish and desperate to me. The more they question her, the more she falters. She doesn’t have an army, she can’t confirm the existence of any true allies, and she hasn’t even set foot in her homeland since she was a baby.
She returns to Xaro’s palace to find that the guards have been slaughtered, the place has been ransacked, and her precious dragons are missing. We see a shot of the creepy warlock Pyat Pree shuffling up the stairs to the House of the Undying … with a large cage on his back.
Sex and Violence
The riot was pretty gross:
- A mob tore a priest’s arm out of its socket and held it up as a prize.
- The Hound sliced one of Sansa’s attackers so badly his innards unraveled to the ground.
Not really any sex in this episode – although I did laugh out loud when one woman’s top got ripped off during the riot in King’s Landing. Leave it to Game of Thrones. It’s not a party until someone shows a little boob!
And of course there was the ‘disgruntled’ spooning scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte. She kept shifting her body around and rubbing up against him while he made weird faces and snapped at her to stop moving. I think we ALL know why he was so testy. (Pun intended!)
The heart to heart (of a sort) between Arya and Tywin. I love when Game of Thrones makes an unlikely pair out of two characters. Tywin is such a bastard and yet he recognizes something in a poor little girl (who’s actually a wealthy little lady, but whatever) that he admires. He takes the time to ask her questions about her father and seems genuinely interested in her answers. He tells her stories about his own experiences teaching Jaime to read. And when she oversteps her station to ask him a question about his own father, he allows her the freedom to do it. It’s in these simple conversations that I learn the most about these characters and I love them!
Theon: “Ser Roderick, It grieves me that we meet as foes”
Ser Roderick: “It grieves me you’ve less honour than a back alley whore!”
Photo Courtesy of HBO