[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 7, "A Man Without Honor"

Courtesy of HBO
"It's better to be cruel than weak," we're told. It's not just weakness of the flesh, or the bone, or the heart. It's weakness of character, of vision, and of fortitude. Tensions continue to build, and forget about winter, something else is coming. You can see it growing like a shadow creeping across the map, filling in every window and door. There was barely a shot that didn't shroud the characters in it's darkness like a blanket. It seeped dialogue in foreshadowing, and drew out the cruelty in most everyone. The War of Five Kings is no longer a game, and no one is innocent.

This was the best yet.

Hit the jump for the spoilerfy review.

Theon is well beyond himself now. "This is no game," he may well claim, but he's still only a child playing big boy, and when he doesn't get his way, he throws a fit. Difference between a stunted little turd like him and an actual child is that real children rarely kick people in the face. You can see though, in his eyes, that it's all just for show. He needs to be cruel, because in his mind, all eyes are on him, searching for the slightest weakness, to point at him and laugh and tell him to run off and play. He's the poster child for bullied or abused children. The look on his face in that last scene, when no one could see him, was done marvellously by Alfie Allen.

The real star of the episode was the return of Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), whom we've not seen since episode one, and delivered a haunting performance here. Jamie, in the first season, surrounded by the stone walls and covered in shiny armour, was a smug, sarcastic bastard. Basically, the Tony Stark of Westeros. But chain him to a pole and cover him in shit, and he becomes Loki (that's right folks, after making a billion dollars, Avengers references are officially a thing now). His scenes, the slow, understated reminiscing with his far removed cousin, and the fiery confrontation with Catelyn, were played so differently, but still highlighted the same core concept: Jamie is still at war, but now he's taking a page from his brother's book and using his words.

Of special note was the first scene, where he struggles to remember his cousin. Note that, when it comes to personal relationships, Jamie is at a loss to place him. But put the boy in the context of a fight, and Jamie remembers every detail. It was a quick moment, but one that defines the character more so then when he later outright states that he was only meant for war. It's more then that. It' not just his predisposition, or his greatest skill. It's his very nature, to the point where his senses and memories are hinged upon the idea of fighting. He is a warrior in the truest sense of the word. And if he failed to realise that, he then very calmly bludgeons a boy he was getting on quiet well with, to death.

Elsewhere, the Starks continue to prove that they are not made for this sort of world, and suffer from a comparable weakness as Ned. Wherein Ned was loyal to a fault, Robb is too kind to be king. His insistence that all the wounded, Stark or Lannister, be well kept I believed was genuine, not just to score points with Lady Nightingale. He's practically writing the Geneva conventions, he's being so kind. That, and he'd really like to get a leg over Lady Nightingale.

As would his brother North of the Wall, who starts with a leg over, and spend the rest of the episode looking at the ground and trying not to blush every time his prisoner mentions he's a virgin. Which is Jon's weakness: his inability to follow through. We saw it last year, when he nearly left the Night's Watch to run off to war. We've seen it this season, ditching his post to run off with the Half-Hand. Last week, he was unable to kill Ygritte, and now he's gone and got himself into a pickle because she is willing to do what he won't let himself do.

Cersei shows both sides of her coin, as has become her custom. To Sansa, she is cruel, and hard, explaining to her in black and white that love sucks, life's a bitch, and your children have to be your only joy. Also, your future husband likes it rough. Get her alone, with someone more powerful then her (Dinklage, in his only scene of the episode), and she falls apart, dropping a facade of power she's built up and actually reveals herself in what she instantly regrets as a moment of pure weakness, something even Tyrion is uncomfortable with.

I'd like to think that the writers give us one gift per episode, but the last few they've been giving the gifts to themselves, and I wonder what wonderful thing happened off screen that made them realise that Arya and Tywin would make such a perfect couple. We are treated to another delectable scene as they figure one another out. Just as I was beginning to doubt that, considering how fast he saw through her first disguise, that he wouldn't be dumb enough not to tell she was a high born girl, he figured it out. But neither one of these characters shows their cards. It's a shame she hates him so, I feel like Tywin could be the father she needs, and I feel like Arya is the daughter he might love.

And then there was some posturing in Qarth, which did nothing to add to Dany's story other then drive home the point once again that dragons are a status symbol and that Dany is naive and out of her depth. Aside from the exceptionally creepy performance by Ian Hanmore, especially the line about mothers as he's stabbed through the chest, there was little of note going on across the Narrow Sea.

I mentioned to someone last week, in conversation, that jokes are few and far between in GoT, and to enjoy them when they come. A few weeks back we had a fart joke open the epsiode for what at the time I called the best. This week it was usurped by an episode that started with a morning wood joke. Is bawdy humour the mark of greatness on this show, or is it just the writer's cruel joke?
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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