Game of Thrones: What is Dead May Never Die

There were a lot of interesting things happening in “What is Dead May Never Die”, so brace yourselves for a long review 😉

King’s Landing:

Tyrion has thrown a lot of damn balls in the air and he’s having trouble keeping them all from crashing down. He’s worried about what Cersei will do if she finds out he’s keeping Shae in the city, so he tries to convince her to pose as a kitchen wench. But the lady has gotten used to fine silks and soft beds and throws a tizzy over the idea. They settle on a new disguise as Sansa’s handmaiden.

But Tyrion has much bigger problems than uppity whores. There are far too many eyes and ears on his small council and he needs to determine whom he can trust. Using his enviably clever mind, he orchestrates a ruse to weed out traitors. Separately, he invites Grand Maester Pycelle, Littlefinger and Varys to his chambers and spins a tale about Princess Myrcella’s fate. To Pycelle he reveals that Myrcella will marry the Prince of Dorn to secure an alliance with the Martells. To Varys he confides a plot to wed her to Theon Greyjoy for the loyalty of the Iron Islands. As for Littlefinger, he requests assistance convincing Lysa Arryn to agree to a match between her son Robin and Myrcella. Littlefinger of course wonders ‘what’s in it for me’, and Tyrion promises him the massive – and potentially haunted – seat of Harrenhal. Tyrion’s real plans remain a mystery at this point. He just sits back and waits to see who sings first.

When Cersei comes to him raging about Myrcella being ‘sold’ to Dorn, Tyrion has his answer. He bursts in on dirty old Pycelle while he’s boinking a prostitute, hacks off his beard and has him thrown in the black cells.

Littlefinger is pretty peeved that he was toyed with, but Tyrion offers him a sweet consolation prize. He’s trying to orchestrate Jaime’s release and asks Littlefinger to convince Catelyn to let him go. And we know how much Littlefinger looooves Catelyn. Does anyone else find something strange in the way Littlefinger speaks? It sounds like a cross between a bad attempt at an accent and him swallowing his own moustache while talking. I don’t like it.

Sansa is practically catatonic after all the trauma she’s been through. She’s desperately sad, terrified to show it, and increasingly clueless as to how to ‘behave’ as Joffrey’s betrothed. During an awkward dinner, Princess Myrcella starts babbling happily about Sansa’s upcoming nuptials and how pretty all the dresses will be. Poor Sansa stares at her like she’s been skewered through the chest. Later she takes of her frustration out on Shae for her crappy handmaiden skills. But there’s a really great moment after Sansa has snapped at her and belittled her where Shae asks, “Do you want me to leave?” and Sansa replies, “Just brush my hair.” Anything to starve off the terrible black hole of loneliness.

The Stormlands:

Catelyn Stark arrives at Renly Baratheon’s camp to a very different atmosphere than the angry, serious energy she left behind at Robb’s camp. Everyone is good spirits, laughing and cheering as they watch knights battle for their amusement. She arrives just as Sir Loras Tyrell (the Knight of Flowers and Renly’s secret butt buddy for anyone whose forgotten) is beaten into submission by a hulking beast. The winning knight takes off HER helmet to reveal Brienne of Tarth – the tallest, most awkward, least feminine woman you can imagine. As champion of the tournament she only requests the honour of serving on Renly’s Kingsguard. He accepts and welcomes her into the fold, even though Loras and several of his closest allies look completely nonplussed.

And let me take a moment here to congratulate HBO on some STELLAR casting. When I was reading the books, I wondered how they were going to bring Brienne to life. She’s a key character but she’s depicted as so gangly and unattractive, I figured they would never a) find an actress with the ability or the balls to portray that and b) resist the urge to ‘pretty’ her up just a little. Well they found their girl and they went all out in the ugly department. Seriously, this is one very, very disturbing looking chick. She’s insanely tall, they’ve given her this stringy, boy mop on her head, and they’ve created this great makeup effect that makes her look like a sick albino. I tried to look up whether Gwendoline Christie, their brilliant Brienne, is actually that tall but couldn’t find out. I mean that would be a world record for a woman or something right? (Editor’s note: She’s 6’3″ according to her Wikipedia entry!)

When Catelyn is presented to Renly he expresses sympathy for her loss and vows to bring her Joffrey’s head. It’s so obvious that he has not yet felt the real pain and destruction of war. To him, it’s still an enthralling adventure. Catelyn calls him on his cocky exuberance” “My son is fighting a war, not playing at one.” But Renly’s greatest strength is his warmth and charm and Catelyn’s harsh words are only met with smiles as he puffs up his chest and shows her around, bragging about the 100,000 men at his command. Catelyn keeps poking, and tells Renly she feels sorry for his followers, because “they are the knights of summer and winter is coming.” Eventually Renly’s patience grows thin and he politely requests that Brienne take Catelyn to her accommodations while he goes off to pray.

Renly’s version of praying, however, has less to do with the gods and more to do with licking Loras’ abs. Renly tries to ravage his sexy little knight, but Loras is too busy pouting about Brienne’s appointment to the Kingsguard. And there’s a bigger problem as well. Renly has recently married Loras’ sister Margaery to secure an alliance with their father. But it’s been two weeks since the wedding and the matrimonial bed is … shall we say … getting dusty. Loras withholds affection and warns Renly to make a woman out of his sister (who is probably already more than a woman, but not ‘officially’).

What follows is the most embarrassing sex scene … err … non sex-scene we’ve seen so far. Margaery enters Renly’s bedchambers and disrobes in style while he babbles about how pretty her gown is and how much wine he’s had to drink. She tries several ‘techniques’ to put him in the mood. Watching him try to get into it is painful. He is just not having any of her girly parts. Then Margaery drops all pretenses and asks him whether he’d like Loras to come in and ‘help’ or maybe she should turn around and he can pretend she’s her brother? WHA??? Margaery is a calculating little minx and she warns Renly that if he wants to hold on to his power and his men, the best way to do that is put a baby in her belly. She doesn’t care if it’s in the middle of a three-way, so long as it’s done. Well … I guess romance is officially dead!

The Pyke:

Theon Greyjoy is still torn between two worlds – he wants to be embraced as Lord of the Iron Islands, but still has loyalty to his surrogate brother Robb Stark. He’s still trying to convince his father and sister that they can work WITH the Starks and achieve glory. But the more he holds to his Winterfell connection, the more he’s mocked and dismissed by Balon and Yara. Balon wants to strike at the North while Robb is South battling with Tywin Lannister and snatch his territory out from under him. Theon has to choose a side and choose quickly or he won’t be fighting for either.

Theon writes a letter to Rob warning him of Balon’s plans and then agonizes over whether to send it. In the end he makes his choice and burns the letter slowly over a candle flame. I really loved this detail because I always felt in the books that Theon turned on Robb without any pangs of consciousness. This gave his decision some depth.

The Road to the Night’s Watch:

Knights from King’s Landing catch up with Yoren and Arya’s group and attack them during the night. Yoren refuses to stand down and reveal Gendry’s identity. He tries to fight back, but is hacked up by the knights. They set fire to the area and in the chaos, Arya makes a strange decision to release the three caged criminals they’ve been travelling with. Guess she can’t stomach anymore senseless death. The knights capture their entire group, but fate intervenes on Gendry’s behalf. A young boy picks-up his bull helmet during the fighting and is killed with it. When the knights demands Gendry’s identity, Arya points to the dead boy in the bull helmet.

Beyond the Wall:

Craster has his crusty panties in a bunch over Jon Snow’s snooping and banishes the Night’s Watch from his lands. Lord Commander Mormont tries to smooth it over, but Jon is crushed to learn that Mormont already knows Craster is serving up his baby boys to forest giants. “Wildlings serve crueller gods than you and I and those boys are his offerings.” The Night’s Watch has their own battles to fight and sometimes playing nice with creeps like Craster can be the difference between life and death in the frozen north.

Sam feels awful that he wasn’t able to help Gilly so he gives her a special thimble from his mother. She protests that he shouldn’t give it away, but he stresses that he only wants her to keep it safe “until I come back.”


Unfortunately we were subjected to more of Bran’s wolf walking dreams, which are starting to frighten him. He confides in Maester Luwin and worries that his dreams are real. After all didn’t he foresee his father’s death in his sleep? Maester Luwin brushes his concerns aside: “What about all the dreams you had that didn’t come true?” Luwin studied magic in his youth, “Maybe magic was once was a mighty force in the world, but not anymore.” He believes it died off long ago, with the dragons, giants and children of the forest. Well we know at least one of those things is alive and well. How much do you wanna bet that the other two are dancing around out there somewhere? 😉

Sex and Violence:

Okay, so here’s the part where I admit that I am a hypocrite. I’ve been rolling my eyes and complaining about all the bouncing boobies on this show, but my first thought when Renly tried to hit the sheets with Loras was ‘HELL YA! Now THIS is the kind of sex scene I want to see!’ Oops.

But in my defense that scene was pretty damn tame compared to the brothel romps we’ve seen. And actually, that’s not fair! We’ve had enough female moaning and gyrating – can a sister get a little male passion on this show??? If you’re going to have a slut-fest, make it an equal opportunity slut-fest please!

I also have a bone to pick with the depiction of Margaery Tyrell. Again, this was an example of HBO interpreting implied elements of the book and exploding them in a way that destroys their subtlety (see Stannis and Melisandre). We don’t get any of Margaery’s POV in the book, but she’s depicted as a pretty, fresh young woman who at least LOOKS like a maiden. Is she more deceptive and manipulative than that? Some people think so, but we don’t really know. I think it’s fine for HBO to choose to portray her as an outright calculating temptress, but my problem was actually with something as simple as her wardrobe. Why on earth would someone pretending to be a sweet virgin wear a dress with a plunging neckline down to her belly button? She’s a high-born lady from one of the most respectable families in the Seven Kingdoms and we’ve never seen any examples of other women dressing that way. (Even Cersei, who would certainly be rocking it if it was a real look!) It seemed like a cheap way to make her sexy and it was completely laughable.

Favourite Scenes:

I’m usually not in love with Theon scenes, but I really enjoyed the heated exchange he had with his father. As Balon continues to belittle him, Theon finally yells, “You act as if I volunteered to go. You gave me away if you remember?” It’s frustrating for Theon because he’s being punished for his connection to the Starks, but he never had a choice in the matter. I think Theon disgusts Balon because he reminds him of his own weakness. He was forced to trade his son for peace when Robert Baratheon bested his army and quelled his rebellion. Theon can’t win no matter what he does because he’ll always be a reminder of Balon’s enemies and forever be an outsider in his homeland. If he was smart, Theon would run right back to Robb Stark who does accept him and love him like a brother. Sure, he wouldn’t be a Lord, but he would actually have a stronger place among the Northmen. But Theon is not smart.

There was also a wonderful little moment at Cersei’s dinner table when Little Tommen asks her “Is Joffrey going to kill Sansa’s Brother?” Cersei coldly stares at Sansa and replies, “He might. Would you like that?” She’s talking to her son but almost daring Sansa to speak out on Robb’s behalf. But then Tommen responds earnestly “No, I don’t think so.” I LOVED that. Tommen is just a little boy, but he’s already thinking about senseless death and it bothers him. It’s a spark of hope for the future of the Lannisters.

Favourite Quotes:

Cersei to Tyrion: “You think that paper father gave you keeps you safe? Ned Stark had a piece of paper, too.”

Varys to Tyrion: “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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