When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die. That’s not quite true, though. Some pawns don’t die. Some just suffer. Some get used and forced to play their part, some are thrown in cells, some get outmaneuvered and bitch about it at weddings, and some have leeches put on their junk. Last night's Game of Thrones was all about what happens when you play the game, lose, and do something other than merely die.

Spoilers aplenty after the jump.

From left to right: Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas, your asshole ex-boyfriend, skinny Fabio.
  • From left to right: Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas, your asshole ex-boyfriend, skinny Fabio.

“Fuck Joffrey and Fuck the queen.” In case you had any doubt whatsoever, the Hound has gone rogue at this point. In the opening scene, Sandor Clegane made it very clear that he has no intention of serving the Lannisters any longer, and intends to sell Arya back to her family. The Hound’s redemption arc doesn’t have him necessarily turning into a good person- he’s still violent and self-hating. Rather, it’s all about him giving the finger to his old bosses.

Sweetie, I got you something! It's the heads of your enemies. Working for Daenerys is a speculative venture. Daenerys pointed out to Daario that a year ago she had no Dothraki horde, no dragons, and no unsullied. Now she has all of those things. Fighting for her is kind of like sinking a whole bunch of money in a hot, up-and-coming tech stock, but instead of getting dividends you get plunder, and instead of losing your cash you could lose a lot of blood or an arm or something. You get the idea. She must look like a damn good investment, though, because Leftenant Cheekbones decided to decapitate his co-workers, assume control of his organization, and hand Her Dragoness a mercenary army. As the only character with an unambiguously upward trajectory in the show Daenerys' segments definitely pop out against the rest, both visually and tonally.

Hooked on Phonics worked for Davos! Both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones go out of their way to make way life in Westeros look awful. The clashing of armies and kings takes a terrible toll in lives and limbs, and the whole thesis of the show seems to be that war sucks and everyone dies. That said, it’s easy to forget that the characters are essentially the Westrosi 1%. Davos Seaworth is one of the few characters who started life as a commoner, and his illiteracy is a nice reminder of just how far removed from our world Westros is. Seeing him struggle to read in a prison cell did more to drive home the plight of the average person than any display of blood or severed extremities.

SO. What did you guys think about that part where Melissandre put a leech on Gendry’s cock? Melissandre, driven to prove that not all of the nasty creepers in the Seven Kingdoms are penis havers, seduced poor naïve Gendry, ("This doesn't seem very religious!" said Gendry, being adorable and kind of dense.) tied him down, and then put leeches all over him, including on his no-no special place. That was… that was kind of weird, Game of Thrones. Not as weird as the Theon stuff, but still... gross.

Melissandre wanted a king’s blood for some nasty magic she was cooking up and Gendry, being Robert Baratheon’s bastard, fit the bill. This part of the series has never sat well with me, as it reeks of weird fantasy essentialism. Most of A Song of Ice and Fire is all about how power is illusive and fickle. Aerys lost his kingship because of madness, Robert became king for his military might, Renly wore a crown because of his charisma, and Robb got a fancy royal title because of Northern nationalism. Melissandre needing the literal blood of a king, though, seems to say that monarchs really are special and interesting. It’s certainly in keeping with the fantasy genre, but it’s a little jarring to see it pop up in Game of Thrones.

And dick leeches. Ew.

Sam killed a zombie! Go Sam! Way to kill one of the monsters that the show keeps forgetting about!

Tyrion and Sansa's special day. Despite all of the mercenaries, dick leeches, and zombies, though, the big centerpiece of the episode was Tyrion’s wedding to Sansa. Every single character involved seemed to be going through the ringer, but it made for absolutely fantastic television. Second Sons is probably the best episode of season three so far, and almost entirely because of this sequence.

Obviously Tyrion and Sansa were having a bad time of it. Tyrion wanted to do right by Shae, but at the same time fulfill his political obligations to house Lannister. At the same time, he saw that Sansa is half his age and utterly terrified. “You won’t be my prisoner, you’ll be my wife,” he said, “I suppose that’s a different kind of prisoner,” he added, recognizing that the word “wife” contains terrors of its own, especially for a teenager.

Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell, the biggest power brokers in the room, were both obviously flustered. Olenna, of course, was annoyed that the various marriages hadn’t worked out in her favor, and that the Lannisters had snapped up the keys to Winterfell. Hearing Diana Rigg list out the absurd familial relations that the various marriages would imply was a splendid little bit of bile. Tywin, for his part, was still obviously anxious about whether his arrangements were actually going to work. He kept leaning on Tyrion telling him that he’d have to impregnate Sansa and produce a Lannister heir to the North. That just seemed awkward for everyone involved, especially Tyrion, who had his dad yelling at him to get a boner.

Cersei was highly pissed off, especially with Margaery, to whom she obviously feels nothing but jealousy. "If you ever call me sister again," she said to the Tyrell, "I'll have you strangled in your sleep." The exchange was a nasty little bit of brutality shoved right in the subtle Margaery's face. Later on Cersei also blew off Loras, who made a halfhearted attempt to talk to her. "No one cares," she said. Cersei resents the idea of having to share power. As much as she thinks she's a political mastermind, Cersei cannot stand to be in the same room as her opponents. She may have been able to outplay an honor-bound guy like Ned Stark, but she's flustered by the Tyrells, who are every bit as manipulative as her.

The only person who really seemed to be having fun at the wedding was Joffrey because, well, he's a sandy little dickhole. That part where he took away Tyrion's stool? Pointless, cruel, and totally in character.

Aside: I kind of want Tywin’s sweet leather coat. Damn, dude.

Best little detail: Loras totally hitting on that one dude in the background. He’s probably the only person in the Red Keep having actual, good sex.

There's another wedding coming up, though. Edmure Tully is marrying one of the Frey girls at the twins. That probably won't be nearly as desultory and depressing as Sansa and Tyrion's. There will probably be a buffet and cake and stuff. It'll be a blast! Save the date.