Game of Thrones: Dark Wings, Dark Words

It feels like there are so many characters in Game of Thrones that we need two episodes every season to re-introduce all the players. Characters missing in action last week got their chance to shine in “Dark Wings, Dark Words”, including Arya, Bran, Jaime Lannister and Theon Greyjoy. Let’s break it down:

Beyond the Wall
Not a whole lot of development in the frozen north this week. In the wilding camp, Jon Snow got a crash course in the messy politics of the free men from Mance Rayder, who explained that everyone wants to kill everyone … but they’ve banded together because it’s the only way to survive. He also got to watch his first Warg trance as one of the wildings entered the mind of a raven and learned of the bloody battle between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers. As for the survivors from said battle, they are still trudging back towards the wall, trying not to freeze to death. Samwell Tarly was taunted for being a slow, chubby coward who was slowing them down. It probably didn’t help that he started weeping, fell over, and refused to get back up.

On the Way to the Wall
First off – WOAH, Bran is really growing up and it looks AW-kward, especially since barely any time is supposed to have passed since we last saw him. I guess that’s the problem with having child actors in TV series, particularly boys. They get a case of the tall and ganglys and you have to pretend it’s not happening (see: Walt from Lost).

Bran is still having strange dreams about three-eyed ravens, but this time there are guest appearances by a mysterious boy who tells him he can’t kill the raven because “the raven is you”. That’s deep man. Things get creepier when the boy, Jojen Reed, and his badass sister Meera show up outside of the dream world and claim to have been searching for Bran. Jojen has some serious juju. He talks casually about his sleep stroll with Bran and manages to tame Bran’s direwolf with a simple outstretched hand.

I really like the way the writers introduced the Reeds into the story. In the books they were hanging out at Winterfell for months before Bran and Rickon’s ‘death’ but this was a much more satisfying entrance. It heightens the supernatural elements of Bran’s story.

Sidenote: It was driving me nuts where I’d seen the actor who plays Jojen before, until I IMDB’d him and realized he was the lovesick little kid from Love Actually!

It’s bad news all around for the Northern Army. It hasn’t escaped their notice that they’ve got less than half the men that the newly formed Lannister/Tyrell alliance have. They’re starting to doubt their chances of victory. Robb also receives two letters carrying equally depressing news. First – Catelyn’s father Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun, has passed away. Second – Winterfell has been burned to the ground and no one has heard anything from Bran or Rickon. Catelyn takes the news particularly hard. She may have lost a parent and two children in the span of a few days. The men set out for Riverrun to attend Hoster’s funeral and reinforce their numbers with his bannermen.

There was a fantastic scene between Catelyn and Talisa in this episode. Catelyn was making some wooden protection thing for her children and she confessed that she’d only built one twice before. Once after Bran fell and she prayed for him to wake up and once when one of the boys was deathly ill. She tells this great story about sitting by his beside and praying for him to get better and then when Talisa asks her which one of the boys it was Catelyn says “Jon Snow”. GREAT reveal because I’m thinking ‘wha??? But she hates him!’ And then she confesses that when Ned first brought Jon home as a baby she prayed that he would die. He got sick and she was petrified that she had doomed this innocent boy so she promised the Gods, “Let him live and I’ll love him.” She swore she would make Ned give Jon a proper name and she would be a real mother to him. And then he got better and she broke her promise. When the danger had passed, she couldn’t bring herself to keep it. The most amazing part was that Catelyn told Talisa she believes all of her family’s tragedy and horror stemmed from that broken promise. “Because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” Really, really cool speech – eerie and massively effective!

Yes, this is the name of a person and not a location … because we have no idea where the hell Theon is right now. But it’s definitely not a happy place. He is currently tied up and being tortured for information. His captors are interrogating him about his reasons for taking Winterfell and every word out of his mouth seems to get him in more trouble. When they’re done tormenting him (for the moment) they leave him strung up with a bag over his head. One man approaches him after the others have gone and claims to be an ally working for Theon’s sister. He leaves him tied up, but promises to return later.

Various People On the Road

From Harrenhal – Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry are making their way North when they encounter a man named Thoros of Myr, from a group called the Brotherhood Without Barriers. They seem to be working apart from any of the King candidates – fighting for the common man of Westeros. Arya is weary of them, but can’t quite get a handle on their intentions. They give her a playfully hard time, but they also offer her a hot meal and promise to send her on her way afterwards. Unfortunately, while Arya is enjoying a bowl of stew, another member of the Brotherhood returns with a valued prisoner – Ser Gregor Clegane. He quickly blows the whistle on her secret identity and outs her as ‘The Stark Bitch’.

To King’s Landing – Poor Brienne is still suffering through Jaime Lannister’s endless prattling as she tries to lead him further south. I love how determined he is to rattle her. He keeps poking at every soft spot, waiting for her to snap. When he detects a certain admiration for the deceased King Renly he jumps all over it, mocking his poorly disguised sexual preferences: “It’s a shame the throne isn’t made of cocks. They’d have never got him off it.” HA! Jaime is obviously trying to create an opportunity for escape, but I feel like even if escape was impossible he’d still spend the whole trip driving Brienne crazy. He just loves to watch people squirm. The duo crosses paths with a lone traveller in the woods and Jaime urges Brienne to kill him in case he recognized Jaime. But Brienne doesn’t want to slay an innocent man just as a precaution. Later, after Jaime has managed to cut his bonds and steal one of Brienne’s swords, the man reappears with the Bolton army (one of the Northern houses) behind him. Big mistake Brienne. Huge.

King’s Landing
Cersei has not warmed to Margaery Tyrell and is not so subtly trying to convince her petulant son that she’s bad news. She basically calls Margaery an opportunistic whore with the fashion sense of a harlot. That’s … actually a fairly accurate description. But Joffrey tosses his mother’s words away and tells her to shut up. “That’s what intelligent women do … what they’re told.” Even though she’s pure evil, Cersei is still smart and cunning. It must be so frustrating for her to be treated like a moron by a teenage boy with the intelligence of a lamppost. Even if he is her son.

Sansa is invited to a garden party by Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna, who want the real scoop on King Joffrey. Poor Sansa is too petrified to speak at first, but the ladies sweetly pry it out of her. Well, Margaery pours on the sugar, but Lady Oleanna has a delightfully blunt attitude and an acid tongue. She calls her own son an oaf, she insults Renly for his misguided power grab, and bemoans her family’s hasty alliance with the Lannister Lions. She thinks the Tyrells should have stayed out of the whole damn mess but, “once the cow’s been milked there’s no squirting the milk back up the udders.” I obviously ADORE this woman. She speaks some serious sense. She asks Sansa point-blank if Joffrey mistreated her and swears that her secret confessions will be safe. They just want to know what Margaery has gotten herself into. Sansa eventually admits that Joffrey is a monster.

So Margaery, rather than run for the hills as any sensible woman would do, decides to use Joffrey’s psychotic personality to her advantage. She pays him a visit in his chambers and starts to play him like the little bitch he is. Joffrey may have let Cersei into his head because he’s slightly hostile with Margaery at first, demanding to know why she married the traitor Renly. Margaery says she only did what she was told to do and confesses that Renly was never ‘interested in women’. As she recounts her failed attempts to consummate her first marriage, she softly strokes the crossbow Joffrey is holding in his lap (literally a crossbow, I’m not making a bad analogy). She steers the conversation towards Joffrey’s favourite subject – weapons and violence. She begs for a demonstration on how the crossbow works and asks him to take her hunting sometime. She acts all flustered and aroused when he shoots an arrow through a dead animal on his wall and when he lets her hold it (again the crossbow, not his penis … although it might as well be), she says, “I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here and watch something die over there.” Sansa was dead on – Joffrey IS a twisted little monster and this chick is using his fetishes to gain the upper hand. I might actually start to like Margaery if she keeps this up!

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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