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Game of Thrones Recap: Dark Wings, Dark Words

After last week’s setup-heavy season premiere episode, Game of Thrones finally started to swing into gear with yesterday’s episode two. And, save a few minor flat notes, it was glorious.


The episode starts with a heavy, heavy dose of feels—Bran’s having a dream where he sees the three-eyed crow, and as he goes to shoot it Robb, Jon, and the voice of Ned show up to reenact the scene from the very first episode where Bran was learning to shoot and no one had died and everyone’s lives didn’t completely suck yet. A ~mysterious~ boy shows up to tell Bran that he can’t kill the raven, because he is the raven (oh Jojen, I love you and your magicbabble).

And then the second scene is Robb and Talisa’s flirty times being interrupted by Roose Bolton delivering a pair of messages, which Robb then relates to Catelyn. The first says that Cat’s father Hoster Tully is dead (RIP Lord of Riverrun, we didn’t know ye). So the second message has to be better, right? Nope. Robb and Cat find out that Theon burned Winterfell to the ground and killed everyone, and that Bran and Rickon are unaccounted for.

Oh, and speaking of Theon, he’s being brutally tortured by people who want to know why he took Winterfell.

Game of Thrones! We’re like ten minutes into the episode here. Have some consideration for our emotions! (Oh, I just made myself laugh.)

Thank the Seven, the next scene has a bit of levity courtesy of Jaime and Brienne, who are getting their bicker on. Jaime makes fun of his captor for being humorless and for loving Renly, who “wasn’t fit to rule over anything more important than a 12-course meal” (ouch) and didn’t swing Brienne’s way regardless (if the Iron Throne was made out of “cocks, they’d have never got him off it.” Oh, Game of Thrones). Brienne’s awesome, though, and doesn’t put up with Jaime’s needling. They come across a friendly-looking dude who may or may not have recognized Jaime and may or may not turn them in. Jaime tells Brienne to kill him; Brienne doesn’t. I wonder if that’ll be relevant later.

Meanwhile, Cersei’s trying to draw Joffrey into conversation about Margaery Tyrell, but the King’s having none of that “listening to his mother” stuff. He actually utters the words “That’s what intelligent women do: What they’re told.” Damn. I feel really bad for Cersei for having that little jerk (mentally replace “jerk” with a harsher four-letter word if you so choose) for a son. Elsewhere in King’s Landing Shae warns Sansa that Littlefinger’s not helping him out of the goodness of his heart: If a man helps a woman, he’s only doing it for one reason. If Littlefinger touches Sansa or asks her to do anything (like spy on anyone, for example), she should tell Shae and Shae will mess him up. (She’d do it, too. Or try. Littlefinger’s a wily one.)

Then Loras shows up to escort Sansa to meet with Margaery and Margaery and Loras’ grandmother Olenna Tyrell, a.k.a. the Queen of Thorns. There’s a bit of sadness when Sansa reminds Loras that he gave her a flower at the tourney in season one and Loras clearly doesn’t remember it, but all that’s washed out of my mind when the Queen of Thorns makes her grand debut.

This scene is wonderful. The Queen of Thorns says it like it is about Renly (he was charming but wouldn’t have been a good king), calls her own son a “fathead” and an “oaf,” and tells off a servant for trying to serve cheese after dessert. (“The cheese will be served when I want it served, and I want it served now.” My hero.)

Olenna and Margaery ask a terrified Sansa to tell them the truth about Joffrey. I really felt for Sansa in this scene. Ever since she’s come to King’s Landing all she’s known is betrayal—she doesn’t trust or even know these people, and they’re asking to her to say something that, if it got to the wrong ears, could get her executed for treason. And yet she’s a honest person, and she wants Joffrey’s future wife to know the truth about him. She tells them he’s a monster, and their response is basically “Oh well *shrug*.”

Then comes the scene I’m most divided about this episode. Catelyn’s making good luck charms (or the fancy religious version thereof) for Bran and Rickon, and she has a great monologue where she explains that she’s made two before: One for Bran after he was pushed off the tower, and one for baby Jon Snow (*cue shocked gasp*). Catelyn resented Snow and prayed for his death, after which he got the pox and Catelyn realized, holy crap, she’d prayed for this innocent baby to die. She promised the Seven that, should they spare Jon, she would love him like a mother and beg Ned to make him a true Stark. But then, when Jon awoke, she broke her promise. It’s because she couldn’t love Jon, Catelyn explains, that all this bad stuff has happened to her family.

I’m of two minds on this development. On the one hand, it gave Michelle Fairley a nice, meaty scene to do and added to Catelyn’s character development. I was always put off by her almost evil stepmother-ish hatred of Jon in the books, and I like seeing that she wishes she could have loved Jon and regrets not having been able to do so. At the same time, guilt over “all this bad stuff happened because I didn’t love Jon” seems kind of clunky, character development-wise.

Speaking of Jon, Mance Rayder is giving him a poli-sci lesson on how to keep nine Wildling clans together: Tell everyone they’re going to die if they don’t. We meet Orell (Mackenzie Crook), a Warg who can zap himself into the minds of animals. (Ygritte gives Jon some grief for not knowing what a warg is—still no “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Gotta preserve those.) Orell says he saw “dead crows” at the Fist of the First Man.

It turns out there was a massive battle there, even if the show cut it: 200 men of the Night’s Watch died, and Samwell Tarly’s getting seriously guilt-tripped by his brothers for not having been one of them. Sam accuses Grenn and Dolorous Edd of having left him to die, to which Edd responds: “Yeah, we left you when the Walkers came. You’re fat and slow and we didn’t want to die.” He just cannot catch a break.

Then back to Bran, where we find out who the kid in his dream was: Jojen Reed. He’s come with his sister Meera (who jumps out of the shadows and puts a knife at Osha’s throat when she tries to kill Jojen, because Meera has the badass older sister thing down pat) to travel with Bran. Jojen knows about how Bran can warg into Summer and tells him about the “sight,” something both Bran and Jojen have that allows them to see things they shouldn’t be able to see, like how Bran saw it when his father died.

And then we come to the last Stark sibling we’ve yet to see this season. Arya’s traveling with Hot Pie and Gendry, who asks her, if she could get Jaqen H’ghar to kill any three people, why didn’t she pick Tywin Lannister and Joffrey and end the war? Oh, Gendry, I’ve missed you. Arya gets in a little sass of her own when Hot Pie asks if they might’ve passed the river they’re aiming for already (“It’s 100 feet wide, how could we have passed it?”). I want a show that’s just three three wandering around the forest engaging in shenanigans. They come across Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood Without Banners—one of my favorite bits from this episode is how Arya challenges them and tries to protect her friends. She’s the best. One of the Brotherhood, an archer named Anguy, shoots an arrow straight up into the air and tells Hot Pie he’d better get a move-on, because by the end of this sentence that arrow will be exactly where he’s standing. How long have you been wandering around the forest waiting for someone you can try that trick on, Anguy?

Then we get the episode’s lone Tyrion scene. Shae tells him Littlefinger’s being shady with Sansa (Tyrion’s response is “Duh, of course he is”) and Tyrion mentions offhand that Sansa is pretty, which sets Shae off. At first it seems like she’s actually offended, but then bickering is sort of what Tyrion and Shae do, so I’m not sure if she wasn’t just playing with him. Anyway, there was no point to this scene. I get how it [book spoiler] foreshadowed Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa, but really, the whole bit just read as “We want Peter Dinklage in every single episode regardless of whether he needs to be!” I normally wouldn’t argue with that, but there are a lot of other characters in the show, OK?

Back to Joffrey and Margaery, who’s learned that Joff is a “monster” and uses that information in a very Margaery-esque way: Buttering him up by playing the murderous psycho. She admires Joffrey’s crossbow (ahem) and says she might like to kill something. She also utters the line “The subtleties of politics are often lost on me.” Ohhh, Marg. You are the best at this. It is a bona fide pleasure watching you work.

Theon is still being tortured for no discernable reason. After his captors leave, a nice, honest-looking servant [book spoiler] (NOOOOOOO GOD NO, IT’S RAMSAY, GET AWAY, GET AWAAAAAY!!!!!!!) tells Theon his sister sent him, and that he’ll come back later tonight to get him out. As he exits the room, Theon sobs at him please not to leave. [book spoiler] Starting the psychological torture early, huh?

Arya and co. tell the Brotherhood how they escaped Harrenhal, after which they are free to go… until Sandor Clegane shows up as the Brotherhood’s captive and recognizes Arya. Uh-oh.

The final scene is Jaime and Brienne: Jaime steals one of Brienne’s swords and they fight, with both of them being rather evenly matched. Jaime tells Brienne that she shouldn’t grimace before lunging, as it “gives away the game.” Then Jaime grimaces and lunges, and I have no idea whether that was intentional on Nikolaj Coster-Waldau‘s part, but I want it to be. Jaime treats the whole thing like a game/educational opportunity, and the whole thing is rather fun (well, from my perspective, anyway)… until some men from house Bolton show up, led to Jaime by that guy from before whom Brienne wouldn’t kill.

Some random book-related notes (casual viewers and non-book readers should stop here):

  • The guy who captures Jaime and Brienne is Locke, a character created as a stand-in for Vargo Hoat from the goats. He is lispless. I am sad.
  • Jojen and Meera’s introduction was a bit weird. In the books they’d already been with Bran for some time at this point, having come to Winterfell before Theon took it. But in the show they just kind of… pop up out of nowhere to offer him advice and help him get to the Wall. It’s a little random, but I’m not sure how the show could have avoided it.
  • In the books, Sandor recognized Arya but didn’t tell anyone who she was, right?
  • Ramsay Bolton. *shudder*

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  • Anonymous

    Urgh, this bit. Theon Greyjoy is one of several characters you want to both hug and punch in the face.

  • Noga Gordon

    “I want a show that’s just these three wandering around the forest engaging in shenanigans.”

  • Noga Gordon

    “I want a show that’s just these three wandering around the forest engaging in shenanigans.”

  • Jill Pantozzi

    My boyfriend, who hasn’t read the books, said, “Oh, I really hoped he was dead,” when Theon showed up.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    My boyfriend, who hasn’t read the books, said, “Oh, I really hoped he was dead,” when Theon showed up.

  • Anonymous

    I’m still not sure where I stand on Shae. The bickering with Tyrion, which seemed playful to me, seemed a bit out of place considering she wanted to warn him that Sansa might be in danger. It’s not helped by the fact that nothing Tyrion said should drive any woman jealous.

  • Aeryl

    My boss thought that Jojen was a younger Theon, because they cut to that dream after the torture, so Bran was dreaming about him.

  • Aeryl

    I saw that scene as just Shae being Shae, playfully bickering with Tyrion.

    But I think the writers are playing the book readers here. We “know” what’s coming, so I think they are playing that up, but intend to take it a completely different direction, only to make it MOAR TRAGIC!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Haha, well I thought the Stark brothers were one guy for several episodes. It’s all pretty confusing until you read the books. (Then it’s confusing and you’re also hungry.)

  • Anonymous

    I am definitely not a fan of the redemption of Catelyn stark via Westerosi mommy dream catcher. As you point out she’s got this mad evil stepmother vibe rocking re: John Snow. This goes on for so long, in the books at least, that my dislike of Catelyn Stark was immediate and enduring. As I’ve said elsewhere, I rather enjoy hating on Catelyn Stark, any attempt to rob me of that pleasure is a no no.

    Also the whole I hate that baby because I’m jealous of its mom thing? That’s … not why she hates John. It’s more to do with what his birth represents, how he’s a living reminder of Ned’s betrayal of their marriage and so on. I mean if we go with the tv show retcon version of things, John may well be pissed that he joined the Night’s Watch if he were to learn that Catelyn didn’t truly hate him, she was just mad jelly. But whatever, it’s one change out of like 50 that I don’t like.

  • Kate A

    Pleasant surprise to see the nerdy werewolf girl from UK Being Human as Meera! She is awesome, Brienne is awesome, Arya is awesome, so much awesome!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yeah, that whole scene was out of place. “Littlefinger’s up to no good.” “Yeah, he’s Littlefinger.” [Five minutes of pointless banter.]

  • Chris Spencer

    I like these reviews, they’re fun. I loved the “How long have you been wandering around the forest waiting for someone you can try that trick on, Anguy?”
    I never even thought about that. HA!!

    Anyway, a few things:
    1) if I remember correctly, in the books one of the members of the Brotherhood Without Banners is from Winterfell and one of Ned’s guards. He and Arya immediately recognized each other when he and the Brotherhood come across her and her, Gendry and Hot Pie.
    2) You forgot to mention the rather nice part (for me) from Sam’s scene when Commander Mormont comes over, commands Sam “I forbid you to die”. He then tells Sam’s tormentor to watch over Sam and if Sam dies, he dies. I loved that part, and made me like the Old Bear even more. It made me laugh since Sam is terrified of Mormont, and he was probably thinking “I better not die or this man will kill me.”
    3) I agree about the Tyrion scene, I didn’t think it was necessary, but I can possibly see where they’re maybe going with it

  • Amber Barnes

    I enjoyed seeing Ceresi getting shut down by Joffrey. She made him the cruel little megalomaniac that he is, and getting a taste of her own handiwork is satisfying.

  • Aeryl

    Yes, in the books it’s Hullen, son of Harwin, who recognizes Arya. Obvs he was cut for time, so it makes sense to have it be the Hound. My question is WHY did you turn around, ARYA??? You should’ve known!!!

    At the same time I can understand, she IS looking for her family and he might know something about Sansa having been in KL.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Huh, I thought Hullen didn’t show up until Arya’d already been with the Brotherhood for a while. But it’s been quite some time since I’ve read three. There are a lot of things in the series to forget! :)

  • Jacii Miller

    I was pretty sure the Hound didn’t recognize her until after he did the whole sword duel and tried to kill whatshisface and failed.

  • Jacii Miller

    Maybe not, it’s been forever since I read that book, hahaha, what ten years?

  • Alan Ching


  • John Wao

    I’m upset at the way they’re truncating wonderful scenes from the book (Brienne vs Jamie and the whole lunch with the Queen of Thorns) to make room for added scenes that are not from the book. Do we really need to take away from Brienne and Jamie to see Theon tortured? You’d think with two whole seasons they’d be able to let some characters breathe.

  • John Wao

    !!!!BOOK SPOILER!!!

    In the book Arya’s identity is revealed by one of Lord Stark’s men, Harwin, who happens to be with the BWB. So by the time the Hound shows up everyone knows who she is.

  • Aeryl

    I like it. If there’s one thing I hate about the later books, is how long you drop out of touch with characters. If they followed the books exact, we wouldn’t see Theon until season 6, maybe late season 5. What’s happening to Theon is what is happening at this point in the books, we just didn’t check in on Theon as a POV at the time.

    And while I love Jaime and Brienne, it does drag out in the books. They’ve obviously cut out a lot of Arya’s journey, so seeing her nearly miss Jaime & Brienne wasn’t going to happen. And some of the other chase scenes only work because Cleos Frey is with them, and well in the show Jaime’s already killed him. I’m still not counting that Jaime & Brienne have been captured yet. Stranger things have happened.

  • Aeryl

    I haven’t read it in a bit, and yeah the BWoB didn’t know who she was until they got to Beric. They didn’t meet Thoros this early either. They were just taking her and her friends along b/c a)she’s a child and b) they run all things passed Beric. Hot Pie stayed behind at the inn, but Gendry stays with her, until they get to Beric.

    And the Hound recognized her before the trial, it’s her accusation of murder that spurs the trial by combat, among other things.

  • Aeryl

    It’s definitely different. I find ShowCat to be more polarizing than BookCat, and no one I’ve talked to thinks this makes her any more sympathetic. They feel she’s right, it is all her fault.

    I also did not get the impression that she was talking about Jon’s mother at all? She was beating herself up for not loving a motherless child.

  • Anonymous

    The Brienne Jamie relationship has been, thus far, kind of boring. I mean it’s nice to see Jaime being an ass because he has some funny lines, but it isn’t really until they’ve gone through some hardship together that their relationship really becomes interesting. Anything that expedites that development is a plus in my book.

  • Isen

    I really don’t know if Jaimie and Brienne are evenly matched. Sure, he had bound wrists and so on, but in a fair fight, I think Brienne would beat him, becaue Jaimie is a player and really overconfident.

  • Carl Jackson

    No, it doesn’t make what she did better. But it does on some level give some impression that she’s self-aware. BookCat seemed to have crystalized her hatred. This version I like more because she’s going through a traumatic event and actually looking for answers. I don’t forgive her as a character. I like her more because she “gets” something.

    I do wonder if the showrunners know something about the storyline involving Snow and Cat past what has been published and they’re setting it up shorthand.

  • Carl Jackson

    As a man, that doesn’t shock me. In this show both Joffrey and Theon have that effect. In other series (I was watching an old rerun of House of Eliot) Arthur Eliott elicits the same response. It’s the same thing women don’t like in stock female characters. Guys don’t like watching characters that look like misogynistic and whiny cartoons. They don’t feel real to us, we just wait for the “necessary plot point” to pass.

  • Carl Jackson

    Re: Brienne and Jamie – I actually enjoyed that fight scene because I thought both actors nailed showing the change in mood and demonstrating who was the better fighter without ever getting to the “hammer to the head” technique of actually setting Brienne’s sword to Jamie’s throat.

    The first part of the fight is chatty and looks even. The next part, Jamie starts to quiet down and looks unhinged. Brienne stops even bothering to be two handed with the sword.

    The final part of the fight before the interruption, Jamie is being knocked around. His swagger is gone and you can tell he hasn’t fought for a while. Brienne has abandoned even pretending she’s a worthy opponent and is exclusively fighting him to a standstill one handed. The second they are interrupted, she moves back to a real stance. In essence, it was a game to her and without being snarky or witty, she told Jamie everything she needed to. Great scene.

  • Aeryl

    That’s my thought. I remember reading somewhere that Weiss and Beinhoff got to pump GRRM for info about where the story is going so they could do their own foreshadowing. So my guess is that the KNOW who Jon’s mother is, are going this route so it will have maximum impact later.

  • Eric Baca

    They are actually thinking of doing a prequell to GOT that would be just that, well not them, but same idea. It would be based on the RR Martin Books about Drunk & Egg.

  • Gregory Goyins

    Your recap is perfect.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    You thlew my bear!

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    He seems “real” enough to me, I just think he’s an insufferable bag of shit.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    True, but I miss the political intrigue so prevalent in season 1 and spackled about in season 2. Ceresi was a big part of that and it’s mostly lost since she’s her son’s tag-along, the Spider is gone, and Littlefinger is being rapey instead of political.

  • Amber Barnes

    Most people don’t care much for political plotlines (while I agree with you, I miss that too), so its little surprise that those tend to fall by the wayside. However, Margaery is certainly stepping up to the plate in that respect, though the pay off of her scheming is a fair bit away.

  • Mike Wytrykus

    I don’t know if anyone is aware of this, but when viewing this site on an iPad (or at least this article), the formatting of the iPad version does not include the [book spoiler] warnings with the redacted text. The spoilers are right there and are read without warning. So I inadvertently read some spoilers for the book I didn’t want to read. :(

    Someone might want to look into fixing that on the mobile version of the site.