[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 8, "Second Sons"

[Author's Note: There is no episode of Continuum this week, and no epiosde of Game of Thrones next. So, the schedule is going to be screwed up for the next little while.]

Courtesy of HBO
This episode didn't have any favours working for it. Stuck between last week's George R.R. Martin scripted episode and the next episode, Rains of Castamere (the ninth, and if this season follows the pattern of the others, the episode where shit will go down), all that was really expected of it was to hold the course.

Last week was all about getting the pieces in position. This week was about holding the line. Focusing mostly on the plot lines that weren't featured last week, with one exception there wasn't a sense of progression in this episode, only one of foreboding. So everyone got to drink and screw and think that the thing they are seeing on the horizon is cause for hope.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that pretend they are made of chicken. They aren't chicken.

The episode was a heavily focused one, which I've been saying all along is the direction the show needs to move. There were several shorter glimpses of other plots, but the majority of the time was spent (lingered, even) on Tryion and on Dany, with occasional leaps back to Dragonstone. And the penis torture continued from last week, in a new and cringe inducing form.

Tryion and Sansa's wedding was the prime story this week, a low key affair and mostly just to get it out of the way while preparations continue for the grand royal wedding, which at this point I presume will happen early next season. What was sorely missing from the episode, considering how much of it centred on Tyrion, was Bronn. Granted, I wouldn't question the logic of firing the cast, and rebranding the show as a Littlest Hobo meets Incredible Hulk, as Bronn roams the Seven Kingdoms going good works, and learning that he's more then just a sword. Also, there would be sarcasm and nudity. But since he's the closest thing Tryion has to a best friend, and a knight besides, his absence was especially glaring [it has since been pointed out to me that he was in fact there, and that I missed him. I feel my point stands] . If not at the wedding, then at least at the reception, where Dinklage and Charles Dance once again prove their compatibility in a snark contesting. And I really liked Tywin's jacket.

The best moment of the night however did not belong to Dinklage's drunken act, or his properly terrifying declaration that he would geld Joffery (the third reference to gelding in two weeks). It belonged to Diana Rigg, and her "I'm My Own Grandpa" routine with Loras and Margaery. Of all the character expansions and alterations the writers have made in adapting the books, her's in the one I'm most pleased with. They have really made Olenna a stand out character, which amongst this cast is really quite the achievement.

Except for the wedding, not much changed at King's Landing this week, though Cersei has apparently given up all pretence, and dropped the last of her cloak of kindness. After explaining in detail what happened to the upstart Reynes (as much for our convenience then hers), she flat out threatens the Queen-to-be, and later all but pushes Loras over the rampart, emotionally at least. Cersei, in her depression, has given up playing the game of thrones, it seems. And that can be dangerous as once you play, you play for life, and I cannot see her behaviour helping her in the long run. She might have learned a thing or two from her own tale, that the only thing that keeps her from being the Reynes in her own metaphor is that the Lannisters are in power. And power, as we know, resides where men believe it resides. And that shift can fall in the Tyrell's favour as quickly as the Lannisters can fall out of it.

Across the Narrow Sea, Dany continued not to waif, making active movements against Yunkai. Last week it was all dragons and bluster, this week she was thrust into the political ring (or as political as things get across the Narrow Sea). And to drive the point home that it wasn't about force and intimidation, the dragons were no where to be seen. Since surrender from the Yunkai was not forth coming, this week she sought to undermine their protective forces by attempting to sway the out manned Second Sons, sell swords under the employ of Yunkai. And I think if it proved anything definitively, its that if J.J. Abrams wants to include Obi-Wan in his Star Wars film, he needs to hire Ian McElhinney immediately. We also met Daario Naharis, adding yet another loyal follower to the Stormborn cause. She's built up quite the Small Council around her over the course of the season, considering she ended last year with only the loyal Mormont by her side.

Considering that GoT is a big, sprawling epic, the moments I most appreciate and most enjoy are the little moments. The quite, personal moments where the characters can show their humanity. Missandei sheepishly telling Dany that she can't speak Dothraki as well as she thinks she does is such a moment, and the show missed a perfect opportunity to make a closed captioning joke with Dany's failed pronunciation. Another was Davos' struggling to read, and the look of sheer delight on his face when he gets the sentence right all the way through. Since his introduction, Liam Cunningham's Onion Knight has been a favourite character, and Cunningham played him perfectly in that scene. And the scene that followed, with Stannis, really sold the idea that these two men are friends. So few of the characters on the show seem to have friends, so when there are those relationships, like Bronn and Tryion, or Stannis and Davos, they stick out. The mutual respect, not just loyal obedience. Considering the show was founded on the friendship between Robert and Ned, it's nice to see a few such groups still exist in Westeros.

The episode ended with an event that I've been waiting for, that happened a lot earlier in the novels, and is a major turning point, both for the mythology of the show, and for the character of Sam. This season, the scant few times we've seen him, he's been forced, by one ungodly event after another, to grow from the timid boy sent to the wall out of shame, into something that might approach a warrior. Gilly still bothers the ever living snot out of me, but so does Ygritte, so maybe I'm just not partial to Wildlings. But here, Sam managed to forget about himself and his fear for a moment, and charged head long into certain death, and came out the victor. Sam's obsidian blade proved not just fatal to a full-on White Walker, but instantly and dramatically deadly. This is the first we've seen a Walker in battle mode, and the single mindedness, barely pausing along the way to achieving their goal, was chilling and dismissive. This was one, going after a baby. Imagine what a legion heading for the wall would be like. So my question is why, since they alone in the wild, and have just discovered the only weapon known to protect them, does Sam leave the dagger laying in the snow after the Walker has dusted? And why would they run away from the tiny protective shack when Alfred Hitchcock briefly took over the show, instead of into the cold wide open?

No episode next week, because of a rating dip last year during the American Memorial Day (and that was Blackwater). Until then, I suggest you listen to this as many times as you can, just to prepare. And please show, from here on out, can we keep the penis torture to a minimum?

Never thought I'd have to ask that of anyone again.
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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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