Game of Thrones: Kissed by Fire

Game of Thrones is on a roll. “Kissed by Fire” was another fantastic episode, although I think it’s a silly title.

Jaime and Brienne
They are deposited with Roose Bolton who has considerably better manners than the men who captured them. He orders the immediate disposal of the rotting hand around Jaime’s neck (Thank God) and sends him for medical attention. Jaime is advised that his entire arm should be removed to prevent infection but he stubbornly refuses. He opts to have the infected flesh cut away and his stump burned to sterilize it. For god knows what reason he refuses milk of the poppy to ease his pain. Maybe he’s finally realizing he deserves to suffer a little for his past crimes?

After his makeshift operation, Jaime ambushes Brienne in the bathhouse as she’s trying to scrub away the stink of the last few days. He’s in desperate need of a cleansing himself and she looks away as he strips down. Instead of using the perfectly good tub beside her, he slips into hers instead. It’s more than large enough for a few people … but still! Jaime is clearly still a little delirious from the pain and he warns Brienne to catch him if he faints. He starts to tell her the truth behind the infamous nickname Kingslayer and why he really broke his oath. The Mad King had become obsessed with wildfire, storing it under the city where it would cause the most destruction. When Tywin betrayed him and sided with the Baratheons, Jaime begged the Mad King to surrender, but he would rather set the city on fire and burn with it. He ordered Jaime to kill his own father and told his pyromancer to light the wildfire. Jaime stabbed the Mad King in the back to prevent the massacre of innocent men, women and children and slit his throat to make sure he stayed dead. Brienne looks completely flabbergasted at the admission, wondering why he never set the record straight, but Jaime tells her that Ned Stark showed up and believed what he wanted to believe. Then he starts rambling and actually does faint. When Brienne yells for help for the Kingslayer, he croaks out his real name, “Jaime”. Seriously one of my favourite Game of Thrones scenes of all time! The naked emotion, the bizarre sexual tension, the revelation … it was just too much!

The Hound battles Beric Dondarrion who wields a flaming sword. Despite his fear and revulsion at the searing heat, the Hound bests Dondarrion and slays him with a sword through the stomach. Under the terms of the trial, The Hound is released, much to Arya’s dismay. But the more shocking revelation is that Dondarrion isn’t dead, or he was … but doesn’t stay that way. Thoros prays to the Lord of Light and Dondarrion rises. Later we learn that this isn’t the first time he has come back from the dead. Dondarrion has been killed and resurrected 6 times! It sounds impressive but that’s actually a pretty crappy track record. That is a LOT of times to die for someone who’s supposed to be a lethal warrior. Just a thought, but maybe if he were better at staying alive, they wouldn’t have to waste time bringing him back.

Arya gets weepy when she learns that Gendry is going to stay on with the Brotherhood instead of traveling to Winterfell with her. He’s searching for a new family, but she wants him to be part of HER family. Gendry gently remains Arya that she’s a highborn lady and she’d only ever be m’lady to him outside of their current situation. Arya also learns that she’s going to be ransomed to her brother at Riverrun. The Brotherhood needs the money to support their cause and Robb will pay for the safe return of his little sister.

Sidenote: Thoros obviously worships the same Lord of Light that has wreaked such havoc through Melisandre. I’ve always thought of her as pure evil, but he seems like a genuine guy. Is he her good reflection?

With Melisandre away on evil business, Stannis is starting to sound more like a human being again – one who is tormented and wracked with guilt for what he’s participated in. He pays a visit to his wife Selyse and confesses his indiscretions with Melisandre, but Selyse already knows and is delighted that he’s submitting to God’s will. So … Stannis is not the craziest person in the family. Then she points at creepy tubes filled with dead fetuses (!!!) and tells him she’s happy that Melisandre could give him the son she couldn’t. Bah! Does anyone but me remember that she did not give him a SON? She gave him a Dementor clone who stabbed his brother and then disappeared. How is Stannis supposed to teach a shadow demon how to play catch or pick up girls???

Stannis also visits the other elusive woman in his life, his daughter Shireen, who is locked away in a tower. She’s a sweet, genuine child, elated to spend time with her father … but her face is disfigured by some type of disease. I’m guessing Westeros is not the most forgiving of deformities. (Just ask Tyrion!) Shireen eagerly inquires about her bestest buddy the Onion Knight who has not been to see her lately. Stannis regretfully informs her that he’s been imprisoned for treason.

Shireen sneaks down to the prison to visit Davos and brings him some exciting books to read. He shamefully admits that he doesn’t know how to read and she vows to keep visiting so she can teach him. It’s a really sweet scene – Davos is so insistent that she keep out of trouble and stay away from him. And she responds, “What will they do, lock us in cells?” It’s really poignant because you almost wondered if she was clueless about her situation when she was with her father, but it’s clear she’s wiser than she looks. She knows she’s being kept out of sight.

A few episodes ago I was wondering why they bothered with a scene where Talisa was tending to the wounds of the two teen Lannisters that Edmure had taken prisoner. Now I have the answer. Rickard Karstark – still shaking with blind rage over the Kingslayer’s escape – breaks into their holding cell and cuts them down as revenge. Robb is furious with his actions … more so because now he’s forced to show his strength and punish Rickard in response. Rickard doesn’t really believe Robb has the stones and basically mocks him for his weakness. Bad, bad time to push Robb. His army, his family, his confidence have been slowly crumbling and he NEEDS to make a bold move. Robb sentences the five Karstarks who took part in the murder plot to death, including Lord Rickard.

Catelyn and Talisa urge Robb to reconsider his stance and keep Rickard as a hostage instead. The Karstarks and all their men will abandon him if he executes their Lord, but Robb has his father’s firm sense of justice and he’s tired of the gray area. Robb personally removes Lord Karstark’s head. I like the throwback to the very first episode of the series where Ned chopped off the head of a runaway Night’s Watchmen and advised his sons that a Lord should always wield his own sword of justice.

But with that swift arm of justice, Robb has crippled his force. They have lost half their men and there is no plan. They can’t sit and wait, they can’t go home and they’re not strong enough to attack King’s Landing. In a eureka moment, Robb decides to head for Casterly Rock instead – take the Lannister’s home and show them the North still has some fight in them, but to do that he needs more soldiers. Men that unfortunately can only come from a person he royally pissed off – Walder Frey.

King’s Landing
In her ongoing quest to undermine The Tyrells, Cersei turns to Littlefinger to uncover their true intentions. Littlefinger sends a sexy young squire to seduce Loras, who stupidly reveals the plot to marry him off to Sansa in between naked necking sessions. Armed with this new information, Littlefinger once again approaches Sansa and offers to take her away from King’s Landing. This time (with her happy future in Highgarden all but assured) Sansa says ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Meanwhile Tyrion has a hysterical conversation with Lady Olenna in which he delicately tries to suggest that the crown needs to cut back on expenses for Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery due to the high cost of war. Lady Olenna not so delicately reminds Tyrion that the Tyrells have shouldered the expense of “12,000 infantry men, 1800 mounted lancers, 2000 in support, provisions so that this city might survive the winter, a million bushels of wheat, half a million bushels each of barley, oats and rye, 20,000 head of cattle, 50,000 sheep.” HA! It doesn’t happen often, but Tyrion got TOLD. She further smacks him down by saying that a Royal wedding is more important than he understands. “People are hungry for more than just food. They crave distractions. And if we don’t provide them, they’ll create their own. And their distractions are likely to end with us being torn to pieces.” Before Tyrion can truly mount an appropriate response, Lady Olenna just agrees to pay for half the wedding and bids him good day. It’s not every conversation where Tyrion barely gets a word in edgewise! I submit that every future King’s Landing exchange should include Lady Olenna. That’s how much I love her!

Tyrion is summoned to a secret meeting with Cersei and Tywin who reveal a plot of their own. As much as they appreciate the Tyrell’s assistance they’re not about to sit back as they “steal the key to the North”. Since the plot to marry Sansa to Loras is not public knowledge, they’ve decided to marry her off to a groom of their choosing first. Both Tywin and Cersei stare at Tyrion until the realization that’s HE is said groom creeps up over him. His response is both the sweetest and the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. “Joffrey has made this poor girl’s life miserable since the day he took her father’s head. Now she’s finally free of him and you want to give her to me? That’s cruel. Even for you.” He doesn’t say it with any amount of self-pity, like he really understands why Sansa would be horrified to be married off to the Lannister family freak. And yet the fact that he’s the only one who actually cares about Sansa’s feelings, makes him the least horrifying member of the clan. It’s sad that even he doesn’t think sweet, kind young girls should be saddled with the likes of him. Cersei gloats and smirks as Tyrion tries to protest … until her father’s harsh words fall on her. Her little brother isn’t the only one being forced to marry for the good of the family. Cersei will wed Loras Tyrell and breed with him while she’s still fertile. All the blood drains from her face. I hate Cersei. A lot. But I actually felt for her when she begged Tywin, “Don’t make me do it again.” Even as a mature woman in her 30’s – mother of a KING – she can still be sold off like property if it suits her father.

Beyond the Wall
Jon is struggling with his conscience as he’s forced to reveal key details about the Wall’s defense. If he gives false information he’ll be discovered, but if he gives true information he could harm his true allegiance. Thankfully he doesn’t’ have much time to dwell on his predicament because Ygritte is busy trying to seduce him. And she’s not subtle about it. She pulls him into a cave, rips off her clothes and basically insists that he mount her. Hey, when living with the wildings, he better do as they do right? Poor, poor Jon Snow. This must he so hard for him. But at least he discovers that he likes to ‘give’ as much as he likes to receive.

Like many of the romantic relationships on the show, this one feels rushed to me. Not the sex, because even in the book it was clear that Ygritte wanted in his pants immediately, but there’s a scene in the cave where they’re bathing together and she tells him she never wants to leave and they should stay there forever. Where did that level of attachment come from?

Across the Narrow Sea
Dany has asked her new army of free men to nominate a leader and an officer called Grey Worm steps forward. She’s puzzled by his odd name until Missandei informs her that the Unsullied are given these names by their masters to remind them they are vermin. Dany declares that all the Unsullied will choose their own names from now on, but Grey Worm says his slave name makes him proud: “The name this one was born with was cursed. That was the name he had when he was taken as a slave. But Grey Worm was the name this one had the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.” I love the look on Dany’s face. She’s in awe of the devotion and a little bit unnerved by the responsibility it brings.

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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