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*