Watching the Thrones: “Dark Wings, Dark Words” Recap
Welcome back to another round of Watching the Thrones, this week’s episode “Dark Wings, Dark Words” was once again a quality installment of Game of Thrones where we learned, surely to no one’s surprise, Joffrey Baratheon is not exactly a supporter of marriage equality; thus giving us reason #956 to hate Joffrey Baratheon.
Beyond The Wall
Not much to report this week, we do get a slightly better understanding of who Mance Rayder is, and what he has accomplished in building his wildling army. Turns out this massive force is composed of over 90 different clans of ‘free folk’, who speak 7 different languages, and also have differing religious beliefs. Despite the many differences and misgivings between these people, they all know the real threat to their existence is the dreaded White Walkers, and Mance was able to use this common enemy to unite them all. Also, Jon Snow encounters British Dwight* who is a bird-warg of some sort, something which ties into Bran’s storyline later in the episode, and will be explained much better in those scenes than it was here. We also get a brief glimpse at Sam’s continual suffering on the journey back to the Wall, and the worst part of it, according to Lord Commander Mormont, he’s not even allowed to die. Poor Sam, he’s got a heart of Gold, but a body hampered by way too many pork pies.
*YEAH, YEAH…I know his name was Gareth fellow TV nerds…I’m no philistine.
Bran Stark reenters the fray, in a beautifully shot dream sequence that allows for a Stark reunion of sorts. Jon and Robb make an appearance in Bran’s dream, reenacting their scenes from the first episode where they were teaching Bran archery. Even Ned Stark’s disembodied voice is overheard through the wind. This happy reunion is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious young man in Bran’s dream; a mysterious young man who reappears later in the episode (in the waking world this time) and identifies himself as Jojen Reed. Jojen, along with his sister Meera have sought Bran out for a….yet to be fully explained purpose. What we do know is this: Meera is good with weapons (as Osha might begrudgingly attest to) and Jojen possess the sight like Bran. Meaning he can see the future in his dreams as well. Yes, there was a lot of set-up here, and much more concentrated mysticism than were used to seeing on Game of Thrones, but it was all well-executed, and the Reed’s presences provide an interesting new angle to the Bran, Hodor, Osha, Rikkon dynamic.
We also meet back up with one of the hated characters on the show, Theon Gravejoy, who is currently being held by Ramsey Bolton’s bastard in some unnamed fort in the north. We haven’t seen this bastard of Bolton yet, but his men seem to take great pleasure in torturing Theon for information. As it turns out though, Theon’s sister has apparently managed to slip one of the iron born into Bolton’s ranks, a young man posing as squire of some sort who promises Theon that he will help him escape.
Robb and Catelyn receive more bad news this week, Cat’s father, Lord Hoster Tully has passed away, Robb decides to march with his men to River Run, where they will attend the funeral, and possibly bolster their ranks with soldiers from the River Lands. Unfortunately, Robb’s men are still questioning his every move, and morale among the Stark soldiers appears to be depleting. Like his father before him, Robb is great warrior, but not exactly skilled at handling/understanding the more subtle nuances of human behavior. Translation: he doesn’t play the game of thrones very well, and as we all know, to survive in this world, you have to know how to play the game. It’s a rough time for the Starks, and it turns out Lady Catelyn feels she’s to blame for her families many misfortunes. She believes it was her lack of love for Jon Snow, her husband’s bastard child, that turned the gods against her family. As it happens, when Jon was a baby he got very ill and she prayed to the gods for him to recover, in return she promised to love him and treat him as her own. However, she didn’t exactly hold up her end of the bargain, hence her belief she is the direct cause of The Starks current predicament. The scene where she confesses this to new Lady Stark, was both powerful and emotionally draining, featuring an amazing performance from Michele Fairley, who can seriously crank the pathos up to 11.
The Tyrell’s continue to steal the show at King’s landing. This week we are introduced to the hilarious and cantankerous matriarch of House Tyrell, Lady Oleena. Dame Diana Rigg’s performance as Lady Olenna somehow managed to be both rather sharp and light as feather. And it was refreshing to see someone finally challenge Sansa’s rigidity towards speaking ill of the Lannisters and actually get positive results. Sophia turner’s performance here was amazing as well, her line about Joffrey “ He is a monster.” was delivered with icy perfection. While we don’t fully understand the game the Tyrell’s are playing yet, but I think it’s safe to say they are highly skilled players. For further proof, may I direct to you to Margaery’s skillful seduction/disarming of Joffrey in his bedroom. She play’s him like fiddle, with an unnerving and assured ease. She knows Joffrey isn’t really interested in sex or romance in the conventional sense, and that he takes his pleasure from inflicting pain on others. By simply showing an interest in his crossbow* and saying: “ I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here, and watch something die over there..” she’s fully enamored the little bastard.
*Hmmm, that’s a mighty big crossbow you’ve got there Joffrey…dare I say it smacks of weapon porn…not…compensating for anything there, are you?
** Yes, I realize I’m talking shit to a fictional character. And yes, he deserves it.
There’s other stuff going on at King’s Landing besides Tyrell mischief though, and this week Shae provides the connective tissue between the non-Tyrell infused scenes. She’s taking her self-appointed role as Sansa’s protector rather seriously, going so far as to warn Sansa about what she suspects Littlefinger’s true intentions are, and attempting to enlist Tyrion in her plot to protect Sansa, but instead they end up arguing and then begin to haves ex. Still though, this seems like something that is going to blow up in everyone’s faces pretty soon, and that should make for some very enjoyable television.
I believe I speak for everyone when I say these two could easily carry their own show. Jamie and Brienne’s scenes provided some most purely entertaining moments of the episode. Jamie has a natural gift for quips like his younger brother*, and always serious, straight-faced, and noble Brienne is the perfect foil for him. All there bickering and bantering finally comes to boil after Jamie manages to steal one of her swords and challenges her to a duel. Their sword fight was a great little piece of action choreography and editing, and I wanted it to go on much, much longer than it did…damn you Bolton banner men for showing up and running their clash…and Jamie was just about to get his second wind and everthing.
*Okay, so…where exactly did this talent come from?? The late Lady Lannister must have been one seriously funny lady and passed the gift onto her sons, because we all know who the humorless Cersei took after…
The King’s Road
ARYA STARK IS BACK! (sorry she’s one of my favorite characters, and it’s good to see her again) Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry have an unfortunate run in with The Brother hood without Banners, a group of merry men-style characters (complete with an skilled archer no less), who claim loyalty to the realm and small people of Westeroes, rather than one particular king. The leader of the BWB, Thoros promises to release them once they’ve got a hot meal in their bellies from the Inn at the Cross Roads, but when the rest of the BWB returns with a captured Hound in tow, things go all pear-shaped for Arya. The Hounds identifies her as a Stark to Thoros…and I imagine he’s not going to as willing to let her and her friend go on their merry way now.
Another good episode overall, and while it’s unfortunate that several important characters had to take the bench this week, I imagine this is going to be a reoccurring thing, as long as the series in on the air. And with so many great things happening with Bran, Arya, The Hound, Jamie and Brienne I didn’t really miss Dany, Jorah, Stannis, Davos, Varys, Tywin, or Bronn too much. The bench is deep on Game of Thrones, and everyone gets there opportunity to shine on the court eventually. When the sports analogies begin…it’s probably best to stop writing, but let’s do this again next week shall we…Hodor?