[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended"

Courtesy of HBO.
This episode was a treat for any and all of us who want the series to expand beyond narrative established by books. Much of what happened in this episode was new material that the producers have added in, both to pad out the distance between "big" episodes, and also to fill in some characters that have never gotten their full due. In the process, Benioff and Weiss have crafted a well balanced midsized episode, where a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened, all of it necessary for what is to come.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once fell off a horse into a pile of shit.

Varys has always been an interesting character, in both mediums. In the books, we never learn that much about him because he's never a POV character. So, we only really ever see the facade he puts up, the public image of the fancy man, clouded in perfume. In the books he is a prim, Otho like character, and despite the insistence of those that encounter him that he is a dangerous man, he is never really presented as having any edge. In the series however, he blisters under the surface with a calm rage. He's struck me as like Hannibal Lector, in that while everyone else is fairly constant in their deception, Varys makes no effort to hide his untrustworthiness. And because everyone knows he can't be trusted, it makes him somewhat more trustworthy. I've also appreciated, over the course of the show, the little scenes establishing the relationships Varys holds with the others in King's Landing. The scene in season one between him and Littlefinger, the two sides of the same coin, a mutual respect and revulsion at how the other goes about his work. Last season they went to great lengths to establish, if not a camaraderie between Varys and Tryion, then at least an understanding that they were more alike. And now we're starting to see those relationships pay off.

Varys got three very good scenes this week, each important comments on the way things operate in King's Landing. His slow, deliberate, and revealing conversation with Tryion, where he once again is completely honest, and lays out why it is that he does things the way he does. He himself is a slow, deliberate and patient sort of person, playing the very long con. Important to note is the inclusion of his hearing a voice answer out of the darkness, one of many slight changes to the way things played out in the books that could lead the narrative down some very different paths. If nothing else, it might serve as fodder for Tryion moving forward, who long ago said he only believes things he sees with his own eyes. While he might not have heard the voice, that Varys did and honestly believes in it might be enough proof for Tryion to get scared too.

His conversation with Ros, who continues to be a character the producers can shunt into an story there happens to be a gap, builds on the seeds of their conspiracy against Littlefinger which began last season. Readers of the books know the importance of Littlefinger, and the plot regarding marrying off Sansa, but the involvement of Varys is either new, or misdirection, or a wrinkle the books simply omitted. Either way, I prefer it, if only because it means we'll get more scenes out of Diana Rigg as the Queen of Thorns. Her character is very like Varys, only more open about her intentions. That they are acting together, and possibly with Margaery as their agent, is a significant change, and I'm very interested to see how this plays out.

The scene inside the Sept of Baelor, with Joffery giving Margaery the death tour of Westeros history, while Olenna and Cersei had a moment together was fun. It began a new story path for Cersei, one that reveals what she's actually made of. The look of fear and distrust on her face when Margaery lead Joffery out to wave at the adoring public was magnificent. Cersei believes that she is the best at what she does, but her scenes so far this year, and especially in this episode, show that the edge of that image is fraying. Tryion has already told her that she's not as smart as him, and here Tywin tells her she's not as smart as she thinks. She is in control when she's surrounded by louts and drunkards and weak children she can seduce. But once she's surrounded by Lannisters and those who want the power she already has and has grown complacent in, she can't hold a candle. The scene between her and her father shows exactly how far Cersei has misjudged the situation, and how far she's got to fall.

The two major events of the episode, those that it will be remembered for because they are loud and brash and have immediate effects, were the Brother's Mutiny, and the sack of Astapor. Dany got her moment, and Emilia Clarke killed it, as she often does when Dany actually has something to do. Her consolidating forces proves she is a growing power in the world, both in terms of man power, but the growth and range of her dragons. It was well mirrored by the loss of the only constant and honourable leader the show has had, Lord Commander Mormont. With the death of the leader of the Brothers, the majority of the Wall's protectors scattered or dead, and John out gallivanting with Mance, the North has been significantly depowered. Note that as the fire rises, the cold recedes. 

The episode did a fine job of keeping on story elements, and not flitting back and forth between scenes like a hummingbird. That's not to say there wasn't obvious filler material, Bran's dream being the one that sticks out like a chin. And Theon's story didn't seem to go anywhere (literally and figuratively). I understand what they were trying to do, to establish a relationship between Theon and Iwan Rheon's character, hoping that Theon would reveal something, which he did because Theon's an idiot. But it mostly feels, and has felt, like just an excuse to keep Alfie Allen on the show through season three. His interlude did provide another small deviation, as Theon revealed that Bran and Rickon are alive, a fact that is never revealed in the novels to anyone but themselves (and one other, who I won't mention). How this changes the dynamic going forward, especially considering who has the information, and how they might use it, will be interesting to see play out. 
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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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