Oh, good. I was getting a little worried there. Three episodes in, and Game of Thrones was doing a whole lot of setup and not a lot of head-whacking. Last night, though, that changed.
This episode knocked down all the dominoes that the first three set up, and the result was wonderful. Blood, death, torture, and incineration abounded. Intrigue was, well, intrigued, barbs were exchanged, and, just like they say in the show, some people won and some people died.
Give Jaime a hand! Because he only has one. Well, actually he has two. One’s around his neck. The subtle little pan up from his filthy hand to its cut-off edge made for a fine opening and a nice follow-up to last week’s smash cut ending.
This has been your regular reminder that Varys has no nuts. Varys revealed to Tyrion that he’d been sold as a slave and was mutilated by a sorcerer as part of a magic ritual. Varys left the experience with a deep hatred and distrust of magic, and obviously no love for Stannis, who makes good use of it.
The scene nicely summed up that in Westeros, magic is not some nice sparkly thing that’s all about fairy dust and unicorns. It’s all about sacrifice, and ultimately can confer a huge strategic advantage to those who use it well. This season has already established that for the time being Stannis is too physically weak to make another shadow assassin, and Varys’ exposition underscores how some kind of blood or flesh can be used for magical means. Viscera, just like troops and ships, is a strategic resource in Westeros.
Also, Varys had a dude in a box. That was kind of fucked up.
Bran: dreaming again. How do we know? Because running. Catelyn pushed him out of his dream-tree, continuing to prove that Catelyn is useless.
Podrick Payne: EXTRAORDINARY. Ros and Varys. Going on about him. More of this? Um, okay. Go Pod! I like Ros as a sexy spy lady. That kind of works.
“You led the defense of King’s Landing.” I love Margaery Tyrell. More specifically, I love that the showrunners have taken a fairly blank character and turned her into one of the best players of the game of thrones. She obviously has Joffrey in her pocket, using his own ego and boorishness against him. She also tries to win the trust of Sansa by offering that she marry her brother handsome (and highly gay) Loras Tyrell. Margaery's certainly calculating and scheming, but her big weapon is making people like her. She doesn't brutalize like Joffrey, she cons people, and in that way is everything Cersei wishes she was, but isn't. Speaking of which:
Lord Tywin continues to be a stone-cold bastard. Cersei, feeling butt-hurt that Joffrey was being manipulated by Margaery, decided to complain to Daddy. “Good,” said Tywin, “I wish you knew how to manipulate him.” Tywin Lannister doesn’t seem to have any illusions about his grandson- he knows that Joffrey is a means to an end, and that someone needs to put a leash on the little shit. He seems perfectly comfortable with the Tyrell’s maneuverings, given that most of it is directed at preserving the Lannister legacy while keeping Joffrey muzzled.
“My real father lost his head at King’s Landing.” Theon’s been having a rough season, what with being captured by the Boltons and all. Last week he got busted out by a mysterious figure claiming to work for his sister, and while tromping around in the woods he ended up getting all weepy and emotion-y, spilling his daddy issues to the guy who just busted him out.
One of my viewing companions, grinning widely said “I really hope that’s Ramsay,” referring to the sadistic bastard son of Roose Bolton.
“That,” I said, “would be very nice.”
And it was. The mysterious figure led Theon right back to a torture chamber, had him tied him up to a St. Andrew’s cross, and then mindfucked Theon right in his feelings-hole. Yes.
“Growing strong, the dullest words of any house.” Yeah, probably. You’re great, Olenna. Margaery learned from the best.
“A daughter-fucking, wildling bastard!” North of the Wall the Night’s Watch is hungry, cold, and irritated. Craster, a self-proclaimed "godly man" seems to spend most of his time growling and fucking his daughters took them in, but didn't offer them much in the way of provisions. Hunger and rage exploded into a bloody fight that left Craster and Lord Commander Mormont dead.
Westeros has rum. Interesting, as modern molasses rum dates from the 1800s.
Dany: Now with a fucking army. Daenerys' storyline last season was a tiny bit weak. There was a whole lot of "my dragons, my dragons!" and not nearly enough of things going kaboom. Last night, though, she outwitted, outplayed, and ultimately out-dragoned the slavers of Astapor. Acquiring the army of Unsullied, using her own dragons as chess pieces and weapons in her conflict with the slavers, and ultimately leaving the city as a conqueror. She finally looked like a queen. Let's hope that keeps up.