Watching the Throne: The Old Gods and the New/A Man Without Honor
**Doing something a wee bit different this time. Due to various mitigating factors these past few weeks, I’ve fallen way behind on getting these recaps out in a timely fashion. So this week everyone is getting a 2 for 1 special**
This recap is going to need a moment….that was pretty intense. If The Ghost of Harrenhall played up the more fantastical/magical aspects of the Game of Thrones, The Old Gods and the New and A Man without Honor were both a brutal return to the harsh and uncompromising realism we’ve come to expect from the series. The term ‘gritty realism’ is tossed around far too much these days in relation to television shows and movies. Typically, whenever a producer, writer, or critic uses the term, it’s meant to be a brand of legitimacy that somehow separates a respective film or TV series from the majority. However, at the end of the day, we know that none of these actors are really killing, raping, slapping, and throwing cow pies at one another. We know these characters, the world they inhabit, and their dragons/dire wolves don’t really exist. Honestly, the best any show can hope for is an authentic emulation of grittiness. Authentic enough that it makes the audience forget that all of this is an illusion; adults playing make believe with more expensive toys (and better actors) than their childhood allowed for. The consistently impeccable writing, acting, and production values featured on the show every week, allows for these characters and their world to matter to everyone watching in the real world by achieving this authentic emulation of grittiness. On Game of Thrones they make us believe the illusion by making their characters suffer, and oh how they suffered these past two weeks….
In the North
Theon and Bran’s storylines collided in a decidedly unpleasant way in The Old Gods and the New. Theon and his crew take Winterfell by force, and he forces Bran to declare him Lord of Winterfell. These scenes featured some very excellent work from Alfie Allen, who conveys a young man who is at once sure of himself and deeply terrified by his own actions. Theon is putting on his big boy voice and attire, but his eyes tell a decidedly different story. This is especially prevalent after his botched execution of Ser Rodrick Cassell. Theon appears to be both exhilarated by this bloody assertion of his dominance over Winterfall, and somewhat ashamed of killing his former mentor. However, the respect Theon earns from taking Ser Rodrick’s head is short lived: Oosha seduces him and then escapes from Winterfell with Bran, Rikkon, and Hodor, all while Prince Theon sleeps heavily in post-coital bliss.
The next morning (and next episode) he awakes to accusations from his men and a situation that is slipping perilously out of his control. He goes on the hunt for Bran and Rikkon, and Maester Luwen tries once again to reason with Theon to no avail. Theon is in way over his head at this point; he’s locked into his course, and is going to follow it to the bitter end. Speaking of bitter ends…have Bran and Rikkon really been BBQ’ed?
Robb Stark, you salty dog, fighting a war and making a little time for romance on the side. How do you do it all!?! Yeah, Robb’s got the hot’s for Lady Talisa, the cute field nurse we meet a few episodes back and spends his scenes in both the Old Gods and New and A Man without Honor trying to woo her, only to have his game salted by his mom, who reminds him he is promised to one of the Walder Fray’s granddaughters. Robb’s plans for a romantic getaway with the Lady Talisa are further hampered by the news that Winterfell is under siege, and that his best friend/brother n’ arms Theon Grayjoy has betrayed him. Poor Robb, all he wants to do take Lady Talisa on nice date, but he’s got stuff to do…and heads to remove. Robb decides to multi-task and asks Talisa to accompany him to the Crag. If I were betting man, I would put good money on an imminent love scene between those two, this is Game of Thrones after all, and for all the blood on this show there’s even more baby-making. While Robb is away from base camp, Jamie Lannister meets a distant cousin, act’s freakily out of character for long stretch of time, the becomes the Jamie we all know and love again and beats his cousin to death to attract a guards attention. He also murders the guard. His escape is short-lived however, and he is returned back to camp to face the angry father of the guard he slew, and Lady Stark. Man, was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau fantastic in this episode or what? Jamie may be piece of crap, but at least he has a sense of humor about all his evil deeds, unlike his evil offspring Joffery.
Beyond the Wall
The two eldest Stark boys have been all about the ladies these past two weeks, but while Robb is doing okay in the romance department, Jon Snow is having a hell of time dealing with the opposite sex. To be fair though, Ygritte, the wilding girl Jon captured with Quran Half-Hand would probably kill him given chance and opportunity. Jon, while no Arya or Tyrion in the brains department, is not going to allow her that chance. However, it turns out Ygritte still possesses a weapon even when she is all tied up: her wits. She has sharp tongue and knows how to wield it. She easily gets under Jon’s skin, making jabs about all the things he holds sacred: His duty, his heritage, his illegitimate status within his own noble family. By the end of episode Ygritte has him so riled up that she manages to escape. Jon eventually catches up with her….and her other wilding friends. It’s funny, but almost everything Quran cautioned Jon in the previous episode seemed to go in one ear and out the other. These were very entertaining scenes, but they also served as an examination of what makes Jon Snow tick. He may be an excellent swordsman and ranger (like all Starks he has a mind for battle), but his upbringing as a bastard has made him a deeply sensitive lad. And in the lands beyond the wall, one can’t really afford to be too sensitive.
In the South
Arya has spent these last two episodes having people murdered and becoming BFF’s with Tywin Lannister. Their interactions on the show are not in the books (her relationship with Tywin that is), and I think we can all agree that this is instance where David Benioff and Dan Weiss have improved on Martin’s work. Tywin’s growing fondness for Arya, due to her sharp wits and sharper tongue, has become one of the series’ most strangely awesome story arcs. Also, I think that Masie Williams and Charles Dance are easily two of the strongest actors on the show, so it’s been a real joy to watch them perform and play off one another these past few weeks. Although, it’s only a matter of time before he finds out the truth about her identity….and she does have one more free murder to use.
Tyrion is Awesome. This has been well-documented by many TV bloggers this past season, myself included, so this week we’re going to talk about someone who is not so awesome…who is the worst actually. Yes, I’m talking about Jofferey. These past two weeks at Kings Landing have featured some of the most intense and heady scenes the series has offered up. Joffery gets butt hurt on account of a cow pie being tossed into his face during a royal procession and sentences all the poor and starving practical jokers of Kings Landing to a brutal death. After the ensuing fracas Tyrion calls him a cruel idiot and smacks him, again. Joffery has gotten so bad that even his mother can’t handle him anymore, and this leads her to confide things to people she doesn’t even like, such Sansa and Tyrion. It’s interesting to seeing Cersei being introspective, and almost regretful, about the little monster she created. Yet even though Cersei knows Joffery is rotten to the core, she will always back his play, support him, and love. Everyone I talk to who watches the series hates Joffery so very much. A co-worker of mine who’s recently gotten obsessed with the show actually wants to fight the Jack Gleeson. It’s funny to think about a fictional character generating this much real world ire, but it’s also a testament to the series’ engrossing nature.
Across the Narrow Sea
Things were just as crazy in Quarth, as they were in Westeros these past two weeks. Dany wants to reclaim her birthright! She wants to sit upon on the Iron Throne! She wants the citizens of Westeros to rise up and take up her cause! And she wants it NOW! Dany’s behavior these past two weeks was very annoying and somewhat out of character, but I suppose it can be argued that she needs to have some personal flaws to conquer before she can conquer Westeros. Her typical levelheadedness is overcome by her righteous fury and Targaryen DNA. In the past, Dany’s fiery speeches are usually followed by her getting her way (or something crazy/magical happening), and it was fun to see the Spice King so very unimpressed one of her “fire and blood” rants. And after being embarrassed, Dany returns to Xaro’s palace to find her friends dead and Dragons stolen. I enjoyed the character Spice King, while Dany talk of destiny and magic he is only interested in logic and the bottom line. So it was shame to see Xaro (I will never ever be writing out his full name.) team up Mr. Warlock and go all Michael Corleone and kill the spice king along with the other 11 rulers of Quarth. To make matters worse it turns Xaro knew about the Dragon thievery as well, Dany is left with few options and even fewer allies after this. It looks like she’s going to have to brave the house of the undying if she ever wants to see her ‘children’ again.
That wraps it up for now. Hope you enjoyed this double-sized recap. And thanks for being patient! Here is a preview for next week’s episode: