Mother of Dragons!
A Game of Thrones Recap
By: Dan Shorr
Welcome back to Game of Thrones, Bran. You look…different. Taking a break from his usual direwolf POV dream adventures, Bran demonstrates his inadequate archery skills for his two older brothers before receiving some advice from his father via voiceover (sadly, Sean Bean didn’t attend the Stark dream-reunion in person). Bran suddenly sees his old friend, the genetically mutated three eyed crow, and unsuccessfully tries to kill it. A stranger in a cape appears; certainly not a unique occurrence on this show. He tells Bran that he can’t kill the raven and then proceeds to teach him drum solos for a few Mariah Carey Christmas songs.
Ah! Too much for Bran to handle. Must not be a percussion guy. He wakes up and it appears that direwolfs aren’t the only things growing. Paying homage to Daniel Radcliffe’s Chamber of Secrets off-screen transformation, Bran seems to have reached that special time in his life when hair starts growing in funny places. Making matters even worse, he complains: “I didn’t ask for black magic dreams!” You and me both, brother.
The King of the North is staring intensely into some flames, an activity that Stannis Baratheon has demonstrated is far from healthy. Robb puts aside his budding fire addiction and is joined by Queen Jeyne. They kiss. The scene stays PG as the royal make-out session is interrupted by Roose Bolton who is double fisting some bad news.
Later, Robb consoles his mother as we learn that Catelyn’s elderly father, Hoster Tully (the Lord of Riverrun), has passed away. They plan to attend the funeral, a semi-strategic maneuver as Robb also intends to pick up a garrison of troops stationed at Riverrun. But there’s more. Robb tells his mother that it appears that the Iron Born invaders have burned Winterfell, killing everyone inside in the process. Bran and Rickon Stark are MIA, and no one has heard from Theon Greyjoy. Remember, this is just what Robb has been told from the letter. We never saw the burning of Winterfell on screen; we can’t just assume the validity of the letter’s information. Either way, with the additional loss of her father and the disappearance of her two youngest sons, Catelyn’s losing streak continues. Desperately, she asks: “have you heard anything from Theon at all?!”
Nope, Theon is tied up and is too busy hanging out with the Princess Bride Torturer’s younger, non-albino brother to send a postcard. Theon, anguished and confused, pleads to know his creepy companion’s intentions. The man responds: “I want to do this” as he gives the detained Greyjoy the Clooney in Syriana treatment. He was going to slice Theon’s nipple off, but that’s so last week.
A DIFFERENT FOREST:
Brienne and Jaime make their triumphant return looking like they are in the midst of a WWE Texas Bullrope match. Brienne is meticulously watching over her prisoner and won’t even let Jaime out of her sight to use the bathroom, a procedural tactic that seems mildly uncomfortable. A farmer passes by, happily greeting them before continuing on his way. The man does a double take; Jaime panics and suggests they kill him. What if he recognized them? Brienne thinks about it…and ignores the advice and walks off. Whoops.
With all due respect to Peter Dinklage’s status as the top-billed actor on the series, Game of Thrones is quickly becoming the King Joffrey Variety Hour. Our loony King is stealing the show one tunic fitting at a time.
Tailors be advised, leave the floral patterns at home. Joffrey’s sentiments towards them (“No flowers!!”) echo Joan Crawford’s wire hanger policy. After Joffrey’s tailor hurries off (somehow without having suffered any dismemberment), Cercei starts pressing her son on his Queen to-be Margaery Tyrell. Young Joff is not having it. “This is becoming one of the most boring conversations I’ve ever had.” Cercei ignores the episode’s most hilarious line of dialogue and keeps prodding. She reminds him about Margaery’s traitor ex-husband, Renly Baratheon. Joffrey hates traitors even more than floral garments! Well played, Cercei.
Sansa disregards a concerned Shae as Loras Tyrell escorts her to meet with Margaery and Margaery’s wise grandmother Olenna Tyrell – known as the Queen of Thorns – who prefers her cheeses when she damn well pleases.
Olenna and Margeary try to loosen Sansa up with some lemon cakes (her favorite!) before getting down to business. They want to know about Joffrey. Sansa delays, but ultimately takes a huge risk by revealing her true feelings for her detested former fiancé. Sansa tells them “he’s a monster” – falling one exclamation mark short of coining a tremendous title for Joffrey’s should-already-be-on-stage Broadway biopic.
On the way to the Tully funeral, Robb talks to Lord Kalstark and detects a sour attitude from his heavily bearded lieutenant. Robb asks whether or not he thinks the North can still win the war. Lord Kalstark points to the Queen and offers an ominous na, not really: “I think you lost this war the day you married her.” Not quite the constructive criticism Robb had in mind.
(Remember, Robb made a deal back in Season One to marry Walder Frey’s daughter in exchange for passage through Lord Frey’s land. Robb broke that oath to marry his Improv Surgeon Extraordinaire Queen who also scandalously hails from a Lannister territory.)
Jeyne approaches Lady Catelyn who is in the midst of an exclusive mother’s only Arts & Crafts session. Turns out its an Arts & Crafts & Confessional hybrid activity as Catelyn proceeds to admit to some past sins. She wished for Ned’s bastard son to die and after the infant (Jon Snow) contracted small pox, Catelyn promised the gods that if they saved the child she would love him, be a mother to him, and insist he be named Stark. She lied. About all three. “Since then, this horror that has come to my family is all because I couldn’t love a mother’s child”… a selfish delusion that completely sets aside the time she kidnapped Tyrion, a much more realistic catalyst for the war’s origins than her disregard for an adolescent Jon Snow. And she wonders why she has a 7:00 PM curfew.
BEYOND THE WALL:
Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder provides us with a few fun facts about the Wildling army; it is made up of ninety different clans that speak a variety of seven languages and everybody HATES the cave people. Ugh. Cave people. The worst. Mance reveals his recruiting tactic. He told everybody they would die if they didn’t join him and head south. Seems easy enough.
Next up we meet Orell, who is doing his best Undertaker (21-0!) impression in honor of WrestleMania 29 which aired the same night as this episode. Orell is a warg, duh, and we find him using an eagle for reconnaissance. He snaps out of his trance and smiles as he tells Jon Snow that he saw “dead crows.” Orell is not just a warg, but a warg with very poor social skills.
BEYOND THE WALL:
Samwell Tarly marches through the snow, exhausted and on the receiving end of an unimaginably poor pep talk by one of his fellow Night’s Watch brothers. Sam collapses and accuses his friends of leaving him behind during the whitewalker attack, to which one of them responds: “Aye, we left you, you’re fat, you’re slow; we didn’t want to die.” This guy is not much of a team player, nor is he particularly kind, but I’ll give him credit for logic and honesty points. Lord Mormont joins the commotion and clarifies matters by forbidding Sam to die. I’m not sure if Mormont has been huffing flames like everyone else on the show and thinks he has some Melisandre-like protection powers, but Sam should probably still carry a sword with him.
Osha goes off hunting and leaves Bran to hang out by himself, a circumstance that never seems to work out so well. The caped figure from Bran’s dream arrives and he brought his sister with him. Meet Jojen and Meera Reed – both appear to wear pants but only Meera carries the weapons. Quick note: last week I made a rookie mistake and identified Summer as Jon’s direwolf – Jon’s direwolf is Ghost and Bran’s is Summer. Jojen approaches Summer, Bran’s direwolf, and the creature gives him the go-ahead. This kid is great at playing the drums, evading London airport security and talking to direwolfs – a valuable skill set indeed. Jojen explains that he and his sister have traveled a long way to find Bran and have come to take him to some unspecified location. Maybe if Jojen had just given Bran a heads up in his dream they wouldn’t have had to cause such a ruckus.
YEAH, ANOTHER FOREST:
Arya’s first appearance of the season is punctuated by Gendry’s A+ line of questioning as he wonders why she didn’t use her three death wishes on someone like Tywin or Joffrey – conceivably, those deaths would have ended the war. He’s totally right. That’s just some Sansa Stark decision making right there.
Arya informs her friends they should go to Riverrun (hey, maybe she’ll make the funeral in time!) when they are interrupted by a group of cheerful, armed men. The group’s leader, identified as Thoros of Myr, comes in peace and offers Arya and her two friends a meal on the house. After some fancy archery work and a cheap fat joke at Hot Pie’s expense, they all head off for some stew.
Tyrion walks into his chambers and sees his girlfriend sitting in bed. Shae clearly did not get Tywin’s memo (RE: Next Harlot Found in Tyrion’s Bed DIES) and is still blabbering on about not trusting Littlefinger. “Is there an idiot in any village that trusts Little finger?” Tyrion asks. No, so move on. Tyrion accidently pulls the “tell-your-girlfriend-about-sleeping-with-another-prostitute-twice” move. He makes matters even worse when they begin discussing Sansa Stark and he compliments her as a “great beauty with a very old name.” Very old name? Talk about a catch.
Shae doesn’t like that and calls Tyrion a pervert (not an inaccurate assessment) but then acts the part herself. GoT producers spared us the sound effects that accompanied a similar sequence in Season One between Renly and Loras, although Tyrion’s “Dangerous people, hmmmmm….” was a noble substitution.
Margeary walks in on Joffrey playing with a crossbow, a scenario Nate Silver estimates ends 100% of the time in the usage of the weapon. Joff claims that he wanted to see Margaery before he left for his hunting trip, but he’s really got other matters he wants to discuss. Specifically, how much Margaery enjoyed her time with Renly Baratheon on the “bedside of a traitor.”
Margaery eventually eases her sociopath inquisitor by stroking his custom crossbow, an action that immediately grabs Joffrey’s attention. Margaery is crafty. Using Sansa’s insight, she plays to her “monster” King’s violence fetish and asks Joffrey for a demonstration.
Margaery: I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here and watch something die.
Now your talking the King’s language.
Joffrey: Could you…kill something?
Uh-oh, Joffrey is getting hot and bothered now.
Margaery: I don’t know your Grace, do you think I could?
Margaery: would you like to watch me?
I’m not sure what commentary I could provide that would top Joffrey hissing “yes” while fantasizing about whatever dramatically inappropriate thoughts go through his demented mind – so we will just move on.
Back at Theon Dark Thirty, we are done with finger nails and are now going for the corkscrew through the foot routine. Theon confesses the rationale behind his actions, hoping desperately for mercy. Attempted familial glory, revenge – nothing seems to be the right answer. After he is left alone, a man claiming to be sent by Theon’s sister (Yara) promises to help him escape – but not till later. The man also does a noticeably mediocre attempt at loosening the screw impaled through Theon’s foot. Try harder, friend.
As the youngest Stark child runs off, Osha yells after him: “Rickon stay with us!” Yeah right. That kid couldn’t get twenty seconds of screen time if he started breeding dragon eggs.
Meanwhile, Jojen continues to hype Bran up on his developing super powers and tells him he will gain the ability see into the past, present and future. It’s a shame Bran didn’t develop that a year ago and stop himself from getting shoved out of a tower by those incestuous Lannisters.
We also get some backstory: Jojen’s father is Howland Reed, a man who shares a deep bond with Ned Stark. Howland sent his children to help once he heard Ned had been killed but apparently never taught them the value of punctuality. A week or two earlier would have been much more helpful.
Arya makes up an escape story crediting Gendry’s access as a smith as their means for procuring their weapons. She reasonably omits the part about the assassin murder hat trick. Arya starts talking trash (because that’s what bad-asses do) and challenges Thoros to a fight, just because. Thoros is amused by Arya’s bravery but far from threatened and playfully ends the fight. If Arya hadn’t been so busy picking fights maybe she would have left before her old friend – the Hound – walked in. Too late. “What in the seven hells are you doing with a Stark bitch?” The Hound doesn’t utilize polite language, but blows Arya’s cover nonetheless. Looks like that run to Riverrun is going to have to wait a little while longer.
Jaime and Brienne attempt to cross a bridge. In the midst of doing so, Jaime pulls a Sam Tarly and takes a seat. He starts complaining about the corns on his feet – SIKE! Kingslayer doesn’t get corns! He was just trying to steal one of Brienne’s swords. An excited Jaime Lannister looks ready for a fight.
Unfortunately for Jaime, so is Brienne. The so called “great beast of a woman” kicks the shit out of Jaime and does so without even breaking a sweat. Awesome scene. Brienne has been tolerating Jaime’s mockery for far too long and finally unleashes on him. She ends the fight by landing a devastating backhanded fist and follows it with a simple flick of the sword, sending an exhausted Jaime to the ground. Brienne doesn’t have any time to relish her victory as the two find themselves facing some unexpected company.
Jaime at least picks up a moral victory as it is revealed that the farmer they ran into earlier did indeed rat them out – Jaime was correct, they should have killed him. The farmer brings a posse wearing Roose Bolton’s House colors and some weird guy working with an identical Sin City Hartigan scar takes Jaime and Brienne hostage.
Tune in Sundays at 9:00 PM and then check Independent Philly the following day for the recap!
[Story by Dan Shorr]